I love everything about this Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup, from the tender red lentils that melt into the creamy, curry-spiced tomato and coconut broth, to the perfect balance of heat, spice and tang that keeps it interesting right down to the bottom of the bowl.
I especially love cooking this soup for friends and family because everyone absolutely loves it!
I can't take credit for creating this amazing red lentil soup. It comes from a recipe in the cookbook Simple, by Yotam Ottolengi.
I'm a huge fan of Ottolenghi's recipes and have shared some of my other favorites here on the blog, including Ottolenghi's Roast Chicken with Za'atar and Sumac, Ottolenghi's Turkey Zucchini Meatballs, and Ottolenghi's Lentil Salad with Herbs and Feta.
Ottolenghi's Curried Lentil Tomato and Coconut Soup Recipe
One modification I made to this excellent recipe is to use tomato puree instead of chopped tomatoes because I prefer a creamier consistency for the soup base - the lentils and aromatic vegetables provide plenty of texture.
How to Make this Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup
Here's a brief step-by-step overview of this recipe, with photos. For a printable recipe with precise amounts and detailed directions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
Here's what you need to make this red lentil soup: yellow onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder, crushed red pepper (chili flakes), canned plum tomatoes, canned coconut milk, dried red lentils and cilantro. Plus fresh lime wedges for serving.
Here's how to make it:
First, sauté the chopped onions until they are tender and golden brown, then add the curry powder, chili flakes, ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
Delicious aromas will start to fill the room.
Next add the dried red lentils and simmer, stirring, for a minute or two. Then add the tomatoes, chopped cilantro stems, salt and pepper.
Add five cups of water and most of the coconut milk (see recipe for specific amount).
Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not falling apart.
The soup is ready to serve. Ladle it into deep bowls - 2 cups is a substantial dinner-sized portion.
Use the remainder of the coconut milk to garnish the bowls. Pour it slowly in a circular motion to make festive swirls. Then add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Note that the coconut milk swirls will slowly expand over time so if you want thin ribbony swirls, be sure to do this step just before serving.
Be sure to serve the soup with lime wedges - this fresh spritz of citrusy tang is fantastic - don't miss out.
Here are the answers to a few questions I've been asked about this recipe
The type of curry powder you use will influence the flavors and determine the heat of this soup. Ottolenghi recommends using a curry powder with medium heat. My favorite is Madras Curry Powder. I use it whenever curry powder is called for in a recipe. It is a delicious blend of spices with medium heat, and it enhances but doesn't overwhelm the dish.
You absolutely can. Coconut milk swirls make a fun and festive presentation but sometimes you may not care about that in which case by all means add all the coconut milk in step #3.
No. You can omit the cilantro and the soup will still be delicious. Or you can omit the cilantro stems that are called for in the cooking process, and serve the chopped cilantro leaves on the side as an optional garnish for those who want it.
Here's the printable recipe. If you make this coconut curry red lentil soup, I hope you will come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
Coconut Curry Red Lentil Soup
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 8 dinner sized servings 1x
This is a fabulous soup - fast and easy to prepare, hearty enough to serve for dinner, vegan, nutritious and absolutely delicious, with just the perfect balance of heat, spice and tang that the whole family will love.
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil or mild flavored vegetable oil
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped (160g, 3 cups chopped onion)
- 2 tablespoons curry powder (I recommend Madras Curry Powder)
- ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (chili flakes)
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press or finely minced
- 3-inch piece of of ginger, peeled and finely chopped (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped ginger/60g)
- 1 ½ cups red lentils, rinsed and drained. (300g/11 oz)
- 28-ounce can of tomato puree or canned whole plum tomatoes, pureed in a blender (see notes)
- 1 large bunch of cilantro (coriander), leaves and stems separated and finely chopped. You will need ½ cup of chopped stems for cooking. Set aside the chopped leaves to use for garnishing.
- 2 13 ½-ounce cans of unsweetened coconut milk, poured into a large mixing bowl and whisked until smooth
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Add the curry powder, red pepper flakes, garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add lentils and stir them through. Add tomatoes, chopped cilantro stems, ½ teaspoon salt, several grinds of black pepper, and 5 cups of water.
- Set aside ½ cup of the coconut milk to use for garnishing and add the rest to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and top with chopped cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
A note about canned tomatoes: Whenever a recipe calls for chopped or pureed canned tomatoes, you get the best results if you buy a can of good quality canned whole plum tomatoes (such as San Marzano D.O.P.) and chop or puree them yourself. It's quick and easy to puree canned tomatoes is in a blender or Nutribullet.
Storage: This soup can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. Reheat gently before serving, and add the toppings.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 35 min
- Category: soup
- Method: simmer
- Cuisine: N/A
Keywords: curried red lentil tomato and coconut soup
Delicious soup recipe for cold nights! Only had one can of coconut milk so used an equal amount of soy milk instead. Thank you for another great recipe.
YUM! Perfect time of year for this soup! Can't wait to make it!!
Thanks so much Jen! I'm so happy you're excited to make this. I hope you'll keep me posted if you make it 🙂
This is the BEST soup! My husband and I were stunned by how tasty it was. Not to spicy - just right, and the lime juice is a great touch. Thank you for another fantastic recipe!
Hi Liz - I'm happy you like the soup so much! So great to get this rave five star review - thank you!