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Super-tasty spicy red lentil soup that cooks in 30 minutes. This satisfying creamy soup is made with Thai red curry, coconut milk and fresh lime. Serve this vegan and gluten-free recipe with Perfect Coconut Rice or rice noodles.
This easy to make red lentil soup spiced-up with Thai red curry is one of those crazy good soup recipes you’ll want to make over and over again.
Based on quick-cooking split red lentils, the soup is one of those delicious, quick and easy recipes we’re always looking for.
The soup comes together in about 30 minutes start to finish. I’ve made it so many times, and I can say it literally saves the day when I come home hungry and dinner is nowhere in sight.
Want to make red lentil soup in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker? Scroll down to find the instructions in the recipe card.
If you happen to have any leftover cooked rice and some baby greens like spinach or kale on hand, you can add those in and make this soup even more satisfying.
I really love the soup (possibly even more) the next day, when the flavors have melded and it makes a perfect lunch.
What are split red lentils?
- Also known as masoor dal in Indian cuisine, red lentils are tiny legumes that are loaded with nutrients.
- They range in color from pale terracotta to deeply-colored orange (not a true red). When they’re cooked they’re more golden yellowish in color.
- Red lentils break down into a very soft consistency when cooked, almost like a naturally creamy puree. Yum.
Not only are red lentils super good for you, but they’re one of the most inexpensive sources of protein around.
Do red lentils need to be soaked?
Happily for all of us last-minute cooks, red lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking. In fact, all colors of lentils are pretty easy to deal with, which is why they’re one of my top healthy pantry staples.
Black and French green lentils make delicious healthy salads as well, so I try to keep a variety of lentils on hand at all times. Red lentils keep well in the pantry for up to a year.
Ingredients for red lentil soup:
Aside from how tasty this soup is, the wonderful thing is that you might already have the ingredients to make it for dinner tonight.
In addition to 1 cup red lentils, you’ll also need:
- 1 large chopped onion
- Carrots, peeled
- Fresh garlic
- Thai red curry paste – I use this brand. It’s vegan-friendly and not at all spicy-hot.
- Coconut milk – I recommend buying full fat (not “light”) coconut milk. Shake the can well or stir well before using to incorporate the thick cream at the top into to the rest of the contents of the can.
- Tomato paste
- Fresh cilantro
Make ahead and storage tips
- Like all soups, red lentil soup tastes great the next day. It also keeps well for 3-5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- Reheat leftover soup in a small saucepan on the stovetop until heated through.
- You can also microwave the soup on high, stirring every minute or so to be sure it heats more evenly.
To freeze red lentil soup:
- Cool the soup completely (this will help prevent ice crystals from forming on the surface.
- Transfer to a freezer-proof covered container and freeze 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator and heat for serving.
- If the texture is thick, add a bit of water or vegetable stock to your desired consistency.
Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 tablespoon (30 g) finely chopped garlic cloves (2 or 3 cloves)
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) tomato paste
- ⅓ cup (80 g) Thai red curry paste, *Note for vegans: Check the label to ensure the curry doesn't include shrimp paste
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup (205 g) red lentils
- 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth, or water
- 1 cup (250 ml) full fat coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice
- 1 cup (35 g) fresh cilantro leaves
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, curry paste and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the lentils, 1 teaspoon salt and the water. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium-low. Partially cover the pan and cook 20 minutes, until the lentils have swelled and softened and the mixture is thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Taste and season with additional salt if you like. Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro.
Pressure cooker directions:
- In steps 1 and 2, use the saute function to heat the oil, onion and carrot, followed by the garlic, tomato paste, curry paste and cayenne.
- Add the lentils, salt and water as in step 3. Cover the pot and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice and serve with garnish.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- This soup keeps about a week in the refrigerator.
- For a heartier soup, add 1/2 cup peeled, cubed potatoes along with the carrots.
- Use an immersion stick blender to partially puree the soup if you like a smoother, creamy-textured soup.
- Taste your curry paste before starting to be sure you like the heat level — it can vary from brand to brand. Adjust the amount in the recipe to suit your taste.
- Serving ideas: Add 1/2 cup per serving cooked rice noodles, basmati or jasmine rice (white or brown).
- Toss a handful of baby spinach leaves into the soup to make a nourishing, satisfying meal.
- If you’re not vegan, add a spoonful of plain yogurt (or use a plant-based plain yogurt) to dress this bowl up even more!