Even when your pantry is bare, you probably have all the ingredients you need for this flavorful curry red lentil soup.
It uses just 10 ingredients!
It’s a vegan, gluten-free, 1-pot meal that is easy to make. Ready in 25 to 30 minutes!
Curry red lentil soup is one of my favorite inexpensive, pantry-friendly meals.
This 10 ingredient soup is made with simple ingredients like:
- Red lentils
- Cilantro for garnish
From start to finish, it’s ready in about 25 minutes.
The red lentils add protein & staying power. Plus, they feel so satisfyingly creamy in the mouth.
This easy soup is great for meal planning. It just gets better with time as the flavors develop and meld.
Why red lentils?
I like to use red lentils in this soup, as opposed to other types of lentils, for two reasons.
- They cook in a lot less time than other lentils.
- They have a wonderful, filling texture. As the lentils cook, they break down, giving the soup a hearty, full body.
Where to find red lentils?
You can find red lentils in Indian grocery stores, the bulk bins of natural grocery stores, or at Trader Joe’s sold in small resealable bags.
Split red lentils (as opposed to whole) are most commonly sold, and that’s what you want to use here.
You want dried lentils, not canned.
Look for small, reddish orange discs that aren’t broken or damaged.
When you get home, you’ll want to sort through the lentils to remove any wayward pebbles or debris inside.
Then give them a rinse. And you’re good to go.
Which curry powder should I use?
I have several favorites that work well in this soup.
- Penzey’s hot curry powder
- Sweet curry powder (Pick the one that fits the best for your preferred heat level.)
Try one of these. Or if you have a preferred curry powder, use that instead!
Keep in mind that curry powders are spice blends. So they vary in terms of heat & intensity.
Start with a smaller amount. You can always add more if you’d like a stronger curry flavor.
Step by step instructions
Here’s how to make this recipe at a glance. For complete ingredient amounts & instructions, keep scrolling to the recipe card below.
Sauté onions and garlic in a soup pot with oil.
Once they are softened and fragrant, add the following:
- Red lentils
- Curry powder
Bring the water to a simmer.
Then lower the heat, and cover the pot with a lid.
Let the soup cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and starting to lose their form.
Serve in bowls.
Garnish with chopped cilantro, if you like.
Make it your own
You can easily make this soup your own by varying the ingredients or amounts.
- For a spicier soup, add chopped chilies at the same time as the garlic and onions. Or add a pinch of cayenne with the other spices.
- If you’re a ginger fan, add grated ginger with the garlic and onions
- Add more vegetables like chopped carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, potatoes
- Vary the type & amount of curry powder for more or less intensity
- Replace the water with vegetable broth
- Replace some of the water with coconut milk for fat, body, and flavor
Storage & reheating
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
It will keep for about 4 days.
Reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
Easy curry red lentil soup
- Bring a soup pot to a medium heat with extra virgin olive oil. Add onion and garlic to the pot and sauté for a few minutes, until they are softened and fragrant. Then add the remaining ingredients to the pot.
- Bring the soup to a simmer. Then turn the heat to low and cover for 15 to 20 minutes, stopping occasionally to stir.
- Once the lentils have softened and are starting to break down while still maintaining some of their shape, the soup is ready. Taste for more curry powder and salt, if necessary.*
- Ladle the soup into bowls. And top with cilantro garnish (optional).
Content updated October 28, 2022. Originally posted April 14, 2015.