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 bowl 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 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.
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.
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!