Vegan Indian Lentil Soup

Thanks to the Whole Foods hot bar and the diversity of the neighborhood around it, I have developed a new found love for Indian food. The best part is that it tends to be vegan by default, so I get all the flavor and warmth and variety that I crave, but without worrying about avoiding meat or dairy. I’m super intimidated by all of the spices that I can’t identify by taste, so I’ve never tried making it at home.

Last night was chilly and damp and we were craving a chunky filling soup. I walked into the coop with a general plan of using red lentils, and a quick Pinterest search popped up this recipe for Indian lentil soup. Luckily, the bulk spice section at the coop makes trying new spices super low risk and inexpensive, so I went for it. Best. Decision. Ever. This soup is so so so delicious and I plan on making it at least once a week for the rest of the winter. If you don’t think you’re going to use these spices for other recipes and don’t want to clutter your cabinet with another 5-6 jars, find yourself some bulk spices and buy just a teaspoon or two of what you need. My spices only cost about $3 total for this entire recipe, and I bought enough for probably 3 more batches. I’ll probably invest in jars of each since I plan on making this often.

Another huge plus is that prep is minimal. You only have to cut one onion and smash (a lot of) garlic! Easy peasy. It’s super forgiving too, so you can use more or less of almost anything depending on what you have in the pantry, and it’ll come out just fine. I wung it on a few things and it was still delish.

  • 2-3 C red or yellow lentils
  • 5+ C chicken or veggie stock
  • 2-3 tsp curry (the recipe calls for curry leaves, but this is all I had sooooo same?)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 yellow onion – diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic – minced or chopped
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (seriously fresh makes all the difference)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter or oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 C tomato puree
  1. simmer the lentils, stock, bay leaves, and curry powder for about 20 minutes in a large soup pot
  2. in a separate pot, simmer the butter+coriander+mustard seeds for a few minutes
  3. add the onions and ginger and fry til transparent
  4. add the garlic and spices and fry for a few minutes, adding the tomato puree when the pot gets dry.
  5. add the onion mix to the lentils and mix everything together. Simmer over low heat for about 20 more minutes.

We ate these with Trader Joes naan, but it would be delicious with crackers or bread, or by itself. I was genuinely sad when my bowl was empty and I was too full to eat any more.

recipe from:


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