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Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Vegan)

4.89 from 161 community reviews

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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.

Two bowls full of bright orange colored Vegan Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup garnished with fresh cilantro

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.

Two bowls full of bright orange colored Vegan Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup garnished with fresh cilantro

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.

Bowl of vibrant red-orange Thai curry soup made with red lentils and coconut milk, with spoon.

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.

Pantry ingredients arranged for making Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup: red lentils, lime, coconut milk and Thai red curry paste.

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
  • Limes

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.
Two bowls full of bright orange colored Vegan Thai Coconut Red Lentil Soup garnished with fresh cilantro

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

Karen Tedesco
Super flavorful, spicy (but not too hot) vegan red lentil soup with Thai red curry paste, coconut milk and lime. Simple and soul-satisfying!
Print Pin
4.89 from 161 community reviews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Soup and Stew
Cuisine Asian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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
  • Salt
  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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!

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 587mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5987IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

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.

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46 Comments

  1. Hi I’m looking to make this soup but just wondering if anyone has ever made Thai red curry paste?

  2. 5 stars
    I loved the soup, very balanced taste and healthy. I had no carrots in fridge so improvised with sweet potatoes instead 🙈

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for sharing this. It’s quickly become one of my favourite meals! Outstanding!

  4. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. I make it almost weekly. When I serve it at large gatherings someone always wants the recipe. Super easy and fast to make and delicious!

  5. Mackenzie M says:

    5 stars
    This is my go-to. A staple in my recipe book. I like to add either broccoli or snap peas as an extra vegetable. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  6. I have green lentils that we usually soak the day before for soup, May I use them instead of red?

    1. Melissa – that’s a great question! Red lentils are not the same as green ones. They cook more quickly and have more starch, so they’re not interchangeable. If you have green ones ready to cook, you can make this tangy salad

  7. Lindsay Dickason says:

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious and so easy! The only substitutions I made was veggie broth for water (omitted salt) and coconut yogurt for coconut milk. This is a must try!

  8. STEPHEN RICHARD LAWSON says:

    Be careful a lot of Thai curry paste has shrimp in it as a main ingredient

  9. Candace Aguirre says:

    5 stars
    Sooo delicious! I’ll be making it over and over

  10. 5 stars
    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.