Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Curried Red Lentil Soup

Happy Monday! Happy MLK Day! And Happy Inaugural! We hope everyone enjoys the long weekend (for those who have it). Meanwhile, we always enjoy long weekends as an excuse to cook and visit with friends. Saturday we had a lovely evening with friends and Sunday we got to cook this soup, and we are glad we did. We wanted to play with red lentils for some time and after enjoying this soup, we only wish that we had done it sooner.

curry2curry4We are big fans of lentils, but usually cook with the brown / green French lentils and in more Mediterranean-influenced dishes. But lentils are also a staple of south Asian cuisine, so we bought some red lentils and pulled out this soup recipe with red lentils with a strong dose of curry and ginger. The soup is a real winner, combining earthy flavor from the lentils, the warm and cool notes of the ginger, sweet coconut milk and the deep spice of the curry. Add a little dried fruit and/or nuts and you have a complete, and very satisfying, meal. So good, both our boys liked it the first time out.

curry6curry8curry9The recipe comes from Martha Stewart, but we do add some extra flavor and simplify the process somewhat. Making the soup is as easy as dicing ginger and aromatics, softening them with the curry, adding the lentils and simmering with water and coconut milk. But there is one caveat, you do need to blend this soup. You can use an immersion blender if you have one (this is the easy way), or ladling the soup into a blender, but you must purée the soup. The issue is the use of fresh ginger. It adds flavor, but the fibrous chucks of ginger are very unappealing if you take a bite of one. Puree the soup. It is a bit of a fuss, but very much worth it.

curry10curry11curry12But after the work of blending the soup, you do get to have fun and finish the dish with the garnishes you like. Once the soup is pureed, return it to the pot, taste and season. Then add in your garnishes. Dried cherries are in the original recipe and they plump-up in the soup and add a delightfully sweet and sour flavor with a meaty texture. Cilantro or parsley add brightness and a slight bitter note. Roasted cashews or pepitas add crunch and flavor. Toasted coconut? Why yes, thanks….Stir in come of the coconut cream? Good idea. A few dots of Sriracha? Why not.

curry13curry14curry15Oh, and did we mention this is a very healthy dish? While it does have half a can of coconut milk (split across four servings), the veggies and lentils give you a full dose of protein, vitamins and fiber. We eat lentils for the flavor and as a way to have a meatless dinner, but we will take the bonus of good health (just don’t tell our boys). This soup will be a regular in our ever-growing lineup of “go-to” dishes. Give this one a try sometime.

curry1Curried Red Lentil Soup:

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Notes Before You Start:

  • You need to use red lentils for this dish, as different lentils have different cooking times. You can find red lentils in many supermarkets these days, otherwise south-Asian markets are a good place to look.
  • Most curry powders (if using store-bought) fade in flavor after 12-18 months. If your curry powder has been sitting on the shelf a few years, prolly best to get a new jar.
  • If you don’t want to use a blender, just grate the ginger into the soup and cook until the lentils and carrots are fully soft. The flavor will be there, but the texture will be chunkier and more hearty (nothing wrong with that!).

What You Get: A healthy, but full-flavored soup with a nice combo of warm and cool flavors.

What You Need: An Immersion blender or blender to purée the soup.

How Long? About 30 minutes. Anytime dish.


(Serves 4 as a main course)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4 tablespoons (1 large) shallots, minced
  • 1 cup (1 large or 2 medium) carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons curry powder 
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • Roasted cashews or pepitas, for garnish (optional)
  • Toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)


  1. Dice the ginger and vegetables. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and then add the ginger, garlic, shallots and carrots. Cook, stirring often, for 7-8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the curry powder, stir and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the water, 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and the lentils and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and carrots are soft, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup, until very smooth, with an immersion blender or standing blender. Return the soup to the pot (if using a standing blender) and add most of the dried cherries and cilantro (save some for garnish). Taste and add salt, as needed.
  4. Pour the soup into bowls. Drizzle in the remaining coconut milk. Garnish with remaining cilantro and dried cherries. Add nuts or toasted coconut for garnish, if you like. Serve.

41 thoughts on “Curried Red Lentil Soup

    • They do work here. They soak up the moisture from the soup and add texture and flavor. Really good…we may try dried cherries in some other asian soups as well, the sweet / sour flavor profile tends to work..

  1. Looks delish & seasonal…thx for sharing with us. Wondering if it’s possible to grate the ginger first and do a non-pureed version, too? (Might be more pungent but that’s not a bad thing!) Sometimes you just don’t have time for that extra step with the blender. Might try it that way and let you know!

      • OK, so I’m back to report that I did try it without pureeing. Just grated the ginger with a little hand-held device (not even the Microplane). It kept most of the fiber on the outside, btw, so wasn’t really an issue. As you know, the red lentils will soften very easily in cooking so as long as the carrots are diced small (and they, too, were soft), this slightly more rustic take worked fine. Delish! (And I didn’t have to clean an appliance afterward–sorry, Martha, time over elegance!) We blended with brown basmati rice the second day. Still delish. Thx for passing along this great winter soup idea!

  2. Soup is something I rarely make myself – because I get so much of it and I have to freeze .. because it will not happen that I eat the same food two days in the row. Love red lentils .. and everything in this soup. So I will put it on file, should never say never.
    It’s your stunning photos that make me consider it.

  3. Hi Carolyn & Stuart This is much like a carrot ginger soup I make that also uses ginger and cocoanut and must be pureed. Ill send the recipe. Ann

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  5. Yum, these are basically all my favorite ingredients to go in a curry (although dried cherries?! whoa…). I’ve just never tried blending them into a soup. I love adding Thai spices (usually red curry paste) and coconut milk to red lentils though… next time I’ll have to try pureeing it all like this! (Too bad I am the not-so-proud owner of 1 not-so-great blender and 1 broken immersion blender.)

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  7. This recipe is perfect! I was looking for a reason to use the big mess of red lentils I have. Plus it’s a perfect Meatless Monday meal. AND I have all the ingredients at home–no need to trudge through the snow. Can’t wait!

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  11. Man.. I am not significantly into studying, but by some means I got to see lots of content articles on your weblog. Its wonderful how interesting it is for me to visit a person very often. :

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