Curried Lentil Soup

September 22, 2014


Nobody really sings the praises of the lowly lentil. They just aren’t very sexy, are they? They’re cheap. They’re easy. They’re (usually) brown. And they taste like…well…sorta nothing, right?

That’s sort of a legume problem in general–beans are a blank canvas.

I’d argue, however, that maybe that’s the hidden charm of legumes. Those little devils are just daring you to break out your creative juices.

“Hi there, it’s us again,” they wave from the pantry shelf. “Your little kitchen workhorses. What’s it going to be this time? A Southwestern chili? Some Cajun one-pot wonder? Something with coconut milk and a little Peruvian flair? Let’s fuel up the old imagination, shall we?”

Often, when it’s lentils I’m looking at, I’ll choose some sort of soup-type concoction. I was particularly lucky this week, when I was in a soupy frame of mind and realized that I had red lentils on hand. Red lentils (often used in Indian cooking) are the supermodels of the lentil world–small and bright and pretty. Not boring at all, trust me.

I decided to veer a little off the beaten path and use Thai curry paste in this soup, but I used ginger and cumin and coconut milk, so the resulting soup still had sort of an Indian flair.

It was full of warm spice and flavor without being spicy at all; you won’t need a fire extinguisher with this one, although you can add red pepper flakes for extra kick if you like. I actually ended up doing that with the leftovers, which I served with rice later in the week.

While I won’t say this dish is drop-dead sexy, I will say that it’s lovely and comforting and well, maybe just a little sexy. And super easy. Easy is good for this family right now, because we are full-throttle crazy with beginning-of-school activities and meetings and adjustments.

I think the one hardest hit by all of the hustle and change is this poor little guy.

He misses the girls terribly during the day and as late afternoon hits, he begins pacing around the front door, waiting for their return.

Ah, who am I kidding? I’m waiting, too.

March on, Fall. March on.

Curried Lentil Soup

serves 4-6

1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

2 ribs celery, sliced into chunks

2 shallots, quartered

2 cups fire-roasted canned tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter

2-4 teaspoons red curry paste (you can find this in the Asian section of your supermarket)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any pebbles

1 quart reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Cilantro leaves and/or plain Greek yogurt for garnish, if desired

In a food processor, pulse garlic, ginger, carrot, celery and shallot until coarsely chopped.

Heat oil or butter in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable mixture and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes or until softened. Add the curry paste and cumin and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes, lentils, chicken broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook until the lentils break down, about 30 minutes.

Depending on the texture you prefer, puree half the soup in a blender (in batches) or use an immersion blender OR puree entire batch if you like a creamy soup with no chunks.

Season with salt and pepper. If soup is too thick, thin with water or broth.

If desired, top with chopped cilantro and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa @ The Meaning of Me September 22, 2014 at 7:09 am

I love soup. This looks lovely – I’m bad at lentils and am always looking for ways to make them, well, sexy. Kidzilla is not a fan of spicy, so I wonder if this will work for her – I like the description of warmth without heat.
I just brought my soup posts back – sweet red pepper this morning. A surprise success that may just be my new favorite. Soup just makes me so happy.
I tried that bean and corn jag salad last week, by the way – oh my delicious! While I’m not surprised that Kidzilla loved the vegetables, I was shocked that she decided with this dish that she now loves feta cheese. Don’t ask me why. But that’s awesome because I’ll toss feta on just about anything. Of course, it kind of has to be the homemade herbed feta from the Mediterranean foods place in our farmers market, but still.
Hope you are all settling into the school thing…I know we’re not quite there yet. Or maybe it’s me who isn’t there. I’m still trying to figure out this self-employed, work from home thing. It’s still a bit confusing.


Dana Talusani September 22, 2014 at 9:57 am


Kidzilla is now eating feta! That is awesome! Hooray! My kids still aren’t there yet. I love roasted red pepper anything, and I make a soup very similar to yours. If the weather is cool, nothing beats a good soup!


Biz September 22, 2014 at 7:25 am

I love lentils! Except my husband? Not so much. I once tried to make a lentil bolognese thinking I could fool him into thinking it was a meat sauce – um, no such luck!

I am loving fresh ginger lately – it adds such a wonderful flavor to soups. I made a green chutney over the weekend to make Chicken Kathi Rolls this week – have you had those before? I am thinking of using the same marinade for the chicken as I do for chicken tikka masala – in my head it works out – we’ll see. :D Happy Monday!


Dana Talusani September 22, 2014 at 9:58 am


I am laughing at the idea that Tony would fall for lentil bolognese!

I am intrigues by the Kathi Rolls–never made them? Can’t wait to read about it.


Barbara September 22, 2014 at 7:46 am

Love the coconut milk in there….great balance for the curry. And I do love lentil soup. My mother made it all the time. We’re all getting in soup mode with fall. Even in Florida!


Dana Talusani September 22, 2014 at 9:58 am


I think I might have trouble eating soup in Florida. All I’d want to eat is cracked crab…


Arnebya September 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Okay soooooooooooo. My food processor is my hands. I can just dice, yes? Say yes. (I almost said ew, no to this, so I’m in need of something for vowing to attempt this).


Dana Talusani September 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm


I’ll say yes :)


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri September 22, 2014 at 9:35 pm

I am definitely trying this recipe, Kitch. My family is always looking for a variation on the traditional Indian dal that I cook. The coconut milk is a nice variation. Thanks!


Dana Talusani September 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm


I have a very good recipe for dal but I’d also love to try yours. Recipe?


Alison September 23, 2014 at 2:35 am

YUM, come to my belleh.


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 23, 2014 at 4:31 am

You had me at ‘Lentils’… I love those little brown pebbles.
Poor Mozzie…


Dana Talusani September 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm


I know! I am so boring compared to those wild and playful girls. :(


ayala September 23, 2014 at 5:53 pm

My husband would love this. :) Thanks for sharing.


Sherri September 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

We’ve been sick-ish – thinking this spicy, warm, and lovely soup might help :).


Erica September 24, 2014 at 8:47 am

I love making soup. And yes, in Florida. This sounds yummy! Thanks!


Jennifer September 24, 2014 at 11:34 am

I like all kinds of beans. I really, really do. Often times we will have just beans for dinner, with rice of course, because as my friend says, I live in West Louisiana.


Dana Talusani September 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm


I love red beans and rice! That’s good eatin’!


Tiffany September 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

I looooooove lentils….will definitely have to try this one!


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