Comforting Red Lentil Soup (Dal Soup)
A warm and comforting Indian-inspired dal soup. This red lentil soup is made with a hint of curry, coconut milk, lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. You can make it in the slow cooker or on the stovetop!
Hoping we’ve had the last of the scorching hot weather for the year!
I’m making bowls of warm red lentil soup and serving it up with crusty bread on the side, or with a big scoop of basmati rice to my bowl. It’s so so good. Regardless of the weather, I love having a pot full of homemade soup in the refrigerator to enjoy for lunches throughout the week.
A bowl of soup and a side salad always fuel me for the day and keep me from feeling super full or from having that 3 pm crash.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that red lentil soup may not be the most photogenic soup you’ve consumed, but it definitely is warm and hearty. It’s easy to make, fills you up, tastes better the next day, and uses mostly pantry staple ingredients.
What is red lentil soup?
Lentil soup is a hearty soup that is often vegetarian-friendly. There are a lot of different varieties of lentils that can be used to make soup, such as, red, yellow, black, or brown lentil. We’re using the red variety to make todays red lentil soup.
What do you need to make red lentil soup?
- Oil + butter: If you follow a vegan diet, feel free to swap the butter for margarine or more oil.
- Minced garlic: I like to use four cloves of garlic, but feel free to use more or less as you prefer.
- Chopped onions: To make this soup even faster, just roughly quarter the onions and pop them into a food processor to help chop them faster. This saves you so much time if you’re planning on pureeing the soup anyway!
- Chopped celery: I process the celery the same way as the onions.
- Seasonings: For this recipe, we’ll be using a few Indian spices, such as turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, ground cumin, and curry powder. I often get a lot of questions about the chili powder, so I want to take a second and tell you that almost any kind of mild (or hot) chili powder will work for this recipe. Standard Indian chili powder has about the same heat level as cayenne, so even cayenne will work for this recipe (however, I don’t suggest using ½ teaspoon unless you can really really spicy food!)
- Diced tomatoes: You just need a can on tomatoes, I told you, this one uses a ton of pantry staples!
- Red lentils: I buy red lentils from an Indian grocery store. They usually require a quick pick and rinse. Just check the container of your lentils to see if they’ve been pre-rinsed – no need to rinse them if they’ve already done that for you!
- Vegetable broth: I’ve made this recipe with both vegetable and chicken broth – both work equally well, so use whichever you prefer.
- Coconut milk: Coconut milk adds richness to the soup. It doesn’t taste like coconut, but it definitely gives it a creamy flavor.
- Lemon juice: I like to add lemon juice as it really compliments all the flavors in this soup.
FAQ’s about lentil soup:
- Can I make this recipe in the instant pot? I haven’t tried making this soup in the instant pot before but I do think it would work. I’d cook in on high pressure for about 9-10 minutes. I’d use ~4 cups of stock if you plan on making it in the IP. Then, thin with additional stock as desired.
- Does this recipe need more stock if I cook it on the stovetop? Yes, it will. I’ve included directions for both the stovetop and the slow cooker. Both have separate directions on how much stock you’ll use based on the type of cooking method you choose.
- I follow a vegan diet, can I still make this recipe? Yes, I suggest swapping out the butter for vegan butter, vegan margarine, or another tablespoon of oil and you’re good to go.
- Can I use coconut cream in place of coconut milk? Coconut milk has a more liquid consistency than coconut cream. If you have coconut cream on hand, you’ll need to thin it out for this recipe. Use about ½ can of the cream and ½ can of water to make the quantity required for this recipe.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Turkish lentil soup
- Detoxing black bean soup
- Secret Ingredient Tomato Basil Soup
- Cuban Black Bean Soup
- Soul Warming Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup
- Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup
- Sweet Potato Lentil Soup
Comforting Red Lentil Soup (Dal Soup)
A warm and comforting Indian-inspired dal soup. This red lentil soup I made with a hint of curry, coconut milk, lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. You can make it in the slow cooker or on the stovetop!
- 1 tablespoon EACH: butter AND olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- ½ teaspoon EACH: ground turmeric, garam masala, AND chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2-3 teaspoons curry powder (mild or hot)
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1½ cups red lentils, washed and drained
- 3-5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken stock)
- 1½ cups of coconut milk
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Chopped cilantro, for serving
- SAUTE: Melt the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions and celery for 5-6 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 additional minute. Add the turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, and curry powder. Continue to cook the veggies for another 1-2 minutes.
- MAKE ON THE STOVETOP: Add the tomatoes, lentils, 4 cups of broth, bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and allow the soup to continue cooking for an additional 12-18 minutes or until the lentils are fall-apart tender. If the lentils soak up too much of the liquid, use the remaining ½ cup of broth to thin the soup to your liking. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture if you prefer a smooth texture. Leave as-is for a chunkier texture. Turn the stove off and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust with additional salt if the soup needs it. Serve in bowls. Sometimes I like to add a scoop of basmati rice to my bowl of soup!
- MAKE IN THE SLOW COOKER: Transfer the mixture from step 1 to a crockpot (slow cooker) and add the tomatoes, lentils and 3 cups of broth. Cook on high for 3 and 1/2 hours or on low for 6 and 1/2 hours. 20 minutes before the time is up add the coconut milk, lemon juice, and cilantro. If at any point the lentils soak up too much of the soup, use the additional broth to thin the soup to your liking. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture if you prefer a smooth texture. Leave as-is for a chunkier texture. Adjust salt to taste. SOmetimes I like to add a scoop of basmati rice to my bowl of soup!
- I used an Indian chili powder (which is very similar to cayenne) but any kind of chili powder (with a spice level you can handle) will work for this recipe! Ancho or chipotle would also work for this recipe!
- vegan friends: swap the butter for margarine or just use more oil instead!
Original recipe shared April 2016, updated September 2020 with a new post, pictures, stovetop directions, and minor tweaks in the recipe.
Love this soup very tasty and has become a favourite in my home
I put too much chilli powder 1 tsp was too much for me to handle ! Lol
This is SO delicious and flavorful and super easy to make! A Mediterranean restaurant near my house makes a fantastic red lentil soup that I crave. After coming across your recipe and trying it out, it is just as good as the restaurant soup! The recipe makes a hefty helping making is great for storing left overs.
Thanks for sharing!
Oh wow! I’m so glad my soup stands up to the restaurant version you love so much! Oh yes, there’s leftovers for days! Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂
So delicious – rekindled my love for daal! I accidentally bought coconut cream instead of coconut milk, so I diluted 2 tbsp of 1 1/3 cup of hot water. Turned out pretty good!
Thanks–really excellent, and after doing a few tweaks reminds me very much of the wonderful Adas Majrous soup at a local Middle Eastern restaurant for sure. I went heavier on all of the spices, probably 1 1/2 times what you call for. Also added the juice of a whole lemon, cooked basmati rice, a full bunch of cilantro, and a good amount of salt. Great recipe I will make often!
Yum! This was so good!
I left out the celery (which I don’t like, so we never have any), the chilli (my little one is only 3) and the cumin (I’ve run out), but it was still good! I used less coconut milk (as that was all I had), and I added some peeled cubed fresh beetroot (as I had some in the fridge that needed using!). So it’s also obviously a recipe that can handle some tweaking.
Oh, and I made some of your Naan to go with it – yum.
This is my go-to lentil soup recipe. It’s perfect; creamy, flavorful and easy! Sometimes, I use canned tomatoes with chilis for a bit more spice.
This is one of my favorite soups!
This soup looks yummy! Do you have the nutritional info on it or suggestion of an app to calculate? I’ve just been diagnosed as a Diabetic 2 and am just now trying to watch the nutritional values.
Hi Sandee! You can plug the URL of this page into the My Fitness Pal app and it will auto-populate the ingredients for you! Then you can go in and edit brands (such as the one for coconut milk) so you get the most accurate nutritional values! Hope that helps!
I can’t find in the directions when the tomatoes are added.
Is this recipe freezer friendly?
Hi Jane! I haven’t tried freezing this particular recipe, but I do think it should hold up just fine! I freeze other lentil soups and they usually hold up just fine 🙂
I froze mine in portions and it is great.
This wonderful dal was the best I’ve had so far. I followed the recipe exactly using the fire roasted tomatoes and the ancho chili powder in addition to the other spices. Topped each serving with a dollop of yoghurt. It is very hearty and healthy too. I will be eating this for lunch this week.
It was amazing! Wish i would’ve taken a better picture of it, but I’ll definitely make it again.
Made with rice and it’s perfect for a stormy night!
So good with rice! Appreciate you circling back to leave a review, Sarah!
I made the recipe and loved it. I was wondering if I could use a few small potatoes instead of the coconut milk. Trying to use what I have on hand to make another batch. I might even add some carrots.
Very easy recipe, enjoyed narrative and eating a subtly flavored nutritious soup. What a treat, economical.
This came out perfect! Had to swipe lemon for lime but it was delicious nevertheless.
That lemon juice pop at the end…wow! This soup is wonderful.