Curry Lentil Soup
Today’s recipe for Curry Lentil Soup is the spunky younger sibling you didn’t think you needed (really Mom/Dad?), but now that she’s here, you realize your life would be emptier without her. An easy red lentil soup made with carrots and warming spices like cumin and curry, then finished with an energetic burst of lemon, it’s comforting, lively, and will most certainly steal the show!
Prior to the arrival of carrot lentil curry soup, I felt pretty satisfied with our family of lentil soup recipes.
This Instant Pot Lentil Soup was the firstborn. It has nearly 100 five-star reviews as this post went to press, though depending upon when you are reading this, maybe we’ve surpassed that mark.
Now, we’re good.
Or at least I thought we were…until I started craving something different.
I wanted a lentil soup that had the best qualities of what makes lentil soup so wonderful to begin with: filling but not heavy; exceptionally healthy; budget-friendly; offering good layers of complex flavor that are greater than the sum of their parts.
And I wanted more. I wanted to cook the lentil soup on the stovetop, quickly.
I wanted said soup of dreams to fill me up, but maintain a certain lightness that would make it enjoyable even in the warmer months.
Finally, I didn’t want to leave my house to find any of the ingredients.
This is that recipe!
Curry lentil soup is exciting in a way that you might not have previously thought applied to lentils. It’s peppy, high-spirited, and just like your favorite younger sibling, it has a way of snagging the spotlight.
At least soup won’t raid your closet.
How to Make Curry Lentil Soup
My best advice with any curry recipe is, if you are craving it but don’t yet own the spices you need, go ahead and invest in them now. It’s a small price in the long run, and you will open yourself up to an entirely new world of recipes to make. It’s well worth it!
- Red Lentils. In addition to being delicious, lentils are also extremely good for you. They’re packed with nutrients like Vitamin-B, magnesium, iron, and potassium. For more information on why I used red lentils in particular for this recipe, see Which Lentils to Use for Lentil Soup below.
- Carrots. Sautéed carrots are the master of bringing delicious caramelized flavor to soups like this (and they taste amazing on their own in this Sautéed Carrots). They become delightfully tender and bring oodles of Vitamin-A to the soup.
- Curry Powder, Cumin, Turmeric, and Coriander. Add these to your pantry and you’ll be able to cook a wealth of Indian recipes (might I suggest this Instant Pot Lentil Curry and this Tofu Tikka Masala).
- Cayenne. I added a pinch of cayenne for a little heat.
- Garlic and Ginger. Garlic brings a lightly sweet, caramelized flavor, and ginger adds a touch of zing and zip.
- Canned Tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes are important for both liquid and flavor in this soup.
- Vegetable Broth. The main liquid base for our soup. Using vegetable broth also keeps the soup vegan. I recommend low sodium so that the soup doesn’t become too salty.
- Lemon Juice. The pop that wakes up the lentil soup and turns it into a show-stealer. Don’t miss it.
- Sauté the onion and carrots.
- Reduce the heat and stir in the spices, garlic, and ginger.
- Add the lentils, broth, and tomatoes, then bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender (about 25 minutes).
- Remove the pot from the heat, and squeeze in the lemon juice. Adjust spices as desired, and ENJOY!
Which Lentils to Use for Lentil Soup
I recommend red or yellow lentils for this quick lentil soup recipe.
Here’s a bit about the most common types of lentils and when to use each.
- Red Lentils. Of all of the lentil varieties, red lentils cook the most quickly. Red lentils also get a bit mushy when cooked, which is actually an excellent thing here, because they make the soup thick and creamy. They also happen to be the kind I have around most often.
- Yellow Lentils. Yellow lentils cook in a similar amount of time to red and also have a similar texture, so they are a good choice in stovetop soup recipes, and you can certainly use them in this one.
- Brown or Green Lentils. These two hold their shape beautifully and take longer to cook, which makes them stellar for recipes that demand longer cook times or use a more intense cooking process than the stove, like the Instant Pot. The Instant Pot especially tends to obliterate red or yellow lentils (soups included). Brown and green lentils are excellent for recipes where you want the lentils to hold their shape, like this Lentil Salad.
To substitute brown or green lentils in red lentil soup, you will need to extend the cook time by 10 to 15 minutes, and the soup won’t be *as* creamy. The recipe will still be delicious, however, so if these are the lentils you have on hand, please do go ahead and try it.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Chop your carrots, onion, ginger, and garlic up to 1 day in advance and store in the refrigerator.
- To Store. Store curry lentil soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftover soup on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add splashes of broth as needed to thin the soup. You can also rewarm this soup in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Place leftover soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Curry Lentil Soup
- Salad. A light, more subtly-flavored salad like Anytime Arugula Salad would be a nice counterpart to this bold soup.
- Over Toast with an Egg on Top. This was one of my favorite ways to eat this soup! The lentil soup is nice and thick, so it’s perfect for ladling over a thick, crusty piece of toasted bread. A fried egg seals the deal. Trust me.
- Bread. Not into the egg addition? Try this soup with a simple side of Crock Pot Bread or naan.
- Add Some Grains. To make this soup even more hearty while keeping it vegan, stir in cooked quinoa (though I find the soup plenty filling on its own).
- Many Indian and other ethnically-inspired recipes are naturally widely accessible to different diets, and this lentil soup is no exception.
- As written, this curry lentil soup is vegan and gluten free. No one will complain, and no changes to the recipe are needed.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Classic Dutch Oven. You will reach for this lifetime piece over and over again for a myriad of different recipes.
- Ladle. Seamlessly transfer your soup from the pot to your bowl.
- Citrus Juicer. Once you use one of these, you’ll never want to juice a lemon without it.
Curry lentil soup, you make our family of healthy soup recipes a little more complete!
Curry Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil - plus additional as needed
- 1 medium yellow onion - cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 large carrots - cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt - plus additional to taste
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 garlic cloves - minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup red lentils - rinsed and drained
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth
- 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice - about ½ medium lemon
- Fresh cilantro - for garnish
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and salt. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, stirring to coat the vegetables with the spices. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir and cook 30 seconds. If the spices start to stick, drizzle in a bit more oil as needed so that they do not burn.
- Add the lentils, broth, and crushed tomatoes. Increase the heat to bring to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes. If the soup is thicker than you would like, splash in a bit of water to reach your desired consistency. (We like our soup fairly thick.)
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and add additional salt as desired (the amount you need will vary based on your vegetable broth). If you'd like it spicier, add a touch of additional cayenne (a little goes a long way). Serve warm, topped with chopped fresh cilantro.
- TO STORE: Store curry lentil soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftover soup in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add splashes of broth as needed to thin the soup. You can also rewarm this soup in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Place leftover soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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