Indian Red Lentil Soup

Indian Red Lentil Soup

Lentils make a wonderful base for soups. Quick to prepare and really cost-effective, they make frequent appearances in our kitchen. I’ve treated them much like a traditionally prepared dhal: cook the lentils until done, prepare a flavourful garnish then add it to the lentils, prepare a strongly flavoured oil that gets stirred in at the last moment. While it sounds like a decent amount of work, it actually comes together quite quickly.

Indian Red Lentil Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over to check for small stones (it doesn’t happen often, but you will occasionally find some)
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped. Around 3-4 tablespoons.
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder or garam masala
  • 1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes with juice, tomatoes roughly crushed
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chili, sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons oil, I prefer refined coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 dried red chilies, options (use Arbol or Kashmiri)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring the lentils, water, and turmeric to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are fully cooked and beginning to fall apart, about 15 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil to a hot saute pan and cook the onions until they start to brown, about 8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger, cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the curry powder or garam masala and cook for another minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the chili pepper. Reduce the heat a little and let it simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a fairly thick and chunky tomato sauce. Add it to the cooked lentils. Bring the lentils back to a simmer while you prepare the spiced oil.
  5. To finish the soup, heat the final measure of oil in a medium pan until hot. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and dried chilies. They may sputter and pop a little, so be careful. Cook until the chilies have deepened in colour and the mustard seeds have stopped popping. This will take 30 seconds to a minute. Stir the spices, chilies, and oil into the lentils.
  6. Check the seasoning and add salt to taste. If you would like, add a little lemon juice too.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Sounds delicious! Definitely going to try this.

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