Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Vegan)
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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.
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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
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup (205 g) red lentils
- 4 cups (1 l) 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!
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.
Just made this – yum. Did not have fresh cilantro, unfortunately, so had to use dried. Not quite as vibrant a result, but still incredible. Did use chicken stock in lieu of water, and added a few baby potatoes and a handful of cauliflower florets, then pureed half the pot.
Fabulous soup, thanks.
What an amazing easy to make soup. Very tasty and filling. Can’t wait to try it in a day or two 😋.
Thanks for the recipe
So glad you enjoyed! It does taste very good after a day or two!
This soup was VERY easy to make and delicious!!! Light but very satisfying. Already people are asking me for the recipe This soup will be a go to this winter. Vegan friendly.
This was such a great tasting soup. Very easy to make and just delicious. This soup will be going into my regular rotation of soups.
Super delicious and hearty. Great with rice. We have made this several times now.
Delicious! There was an issue with my lentils so I had to swap them out last minute for chickpeas. I immersion blended them when everything was cooked to thicken the soup a bit. But the north was delicious and really nicely balanced with the spice and the coconut milk. Turned out to be a very flexible recipe even though I didn’t intend to flex it. Thanks!
I think chickpeas sound delicious paired with the flavors in the soup. Thanks for sharing that!
Terrific recipe! Amazing soup for such a short cook time! Packed full of flavour! We totally loved it! Could only find light coconut milk but it worked just fine.
Thanks for the inspiriation!
Delicious. I love red Thai curry and it was great in this lentil soup. Hit the spot on this snowy day!
I have made this soup twice and it is really flavorful.Quick and easy is also a bonus.
Wonderful! I used bone broth for a little more hardiness but long to make it again with maybe some collards? And…I’m so excited to see all the other recipes you’re offering. Thank you so much. I think this one will be my Christmas lunch!
Can you check your nutrition section. You list serving as 1g. Do you mean 1 cup? I’m simmering the soup now and have fixed it exactly as written, it’s delicious so far!
Thanks for noticing that Elizabeth – just updated!
Excellent, filling, and healthy! I did add extra tomato paste, coconut milk, and lime juice, and it was next level with the cilantro. Enjoyed by our meat eaters, and vegans, alike! Thank you!
Yay so happy to know that!
So good! Thanks so much for sharing.
Delicious but wayyy too spicy, and I didn’t even add the cayenne. I think my curry paste might have been too hot. Added 3 times the amount of coconut milk to fan the heat but still a wee bit too hot for me (and I like spicy food). The flavors are amazing though!
This soup is delicious! I used veggie stock instead of water.
The water makes it very bland would add a veggie stock
Vegetable stock is a great option if you like it highly seasoned. You could also add a teaspoon or so of tamari or more salt to your taste.
Has anyone made this with chicken stock? How was it. If I make the soup the day before I serve it, should I add the coconut milk the next day or just reheat everything on the day?
Hi Joan – Yes, you can use chicken stock and it will taste great! Leftover soup with the coconut milk will reheat well, but you might want to add more stock or water if it thickens up in the refrigerator.
Made it for dinner tonight. Foolproof! I didn’t have tomato paste so I used a tomato instead and low fat coconut since we are trying to eat healthy. The soup was fantastic and very nice on a cold nite. Thank you for this recipe.
Yay! So happy to hear that 🙂
This was fantastic, and so easy! Thanks so much 🙂
Now that we have all the time in the world to be making sit down lunches, this was on the table less that an hours ago. What a delicious bowl of hearty healthiness.
Thanks Jill – so glad you enjoyed the soup!
We loved this soup and it was so easy too! Thank you for a great recipe!!
This soup is amazing!! So nourishing and satisfyingly delicious. It has quickly become my new favorite. Thank you so much!!
Awesome! So glad you liked it Jen 🙂
Can you freeze this?
Yes, you can freeze it in a secure container for up to a month.