Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup

coconut curry red lentil soup

At six weeks pregnant, my sister Annie learned that at that stage of gestation, her baby was the size of a lentil. And so, from then on, the baby was called, “Lentil.” Even before we all knew she was a she and after she grew to the size of a peanut, and then a grape, and then an eight and a half pound full-term infant, she remained, “Lentil.”

When the baby arrived, I had to meet her, and quickly found my way onto a red-eye flight heading East.

Precious days they were, being in the company of a newborn and her awestruck and bone-tired parents. Having had three babies of my own, I know that a well-stocked refrigerator and freezer is gold in those early days, and so dedicated much of my energy doing just that.

Nutrient-Packed Meals

I set to work on dishes that were packed with nourishment and freezer-friendly. I decided to start with a lentil soup spiced with curry and enriched with coconut milk. I didn’t see the irony of what I was cooking until well into my pot of soup. I had to laugh. A soup for Lentil, of course. What could be more appropriate?

And what better way to restore the energy of a new mama, and by turns, her nursing babe, than a pot of Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup. The tiny legume is rich in iron, potassium, and fiber, and has more folate than any other plant-based food. Onions, garlic, ginger, and curry lend balance and flavor, not to mention health benefits all their own, something I touched on here.

A Lightened Up Recipe

The recipe calls for light coconut milk instead of regular because it means a significant savings in both fat and calories. Regular coconut milk weighs in at about 450 calories and 50 grams of fat per cup, whereas light is 150 calories with 15 grams of fat.  Yes, you give up some richness, but there’s plenty of other goodness going on in this soup to make it a work.

I fed it to my sister and her doting hubby that first evening.

Lentil got hers second hand and apparently liked it very much.

As for the name, it didn’t stick around past birth. They’re calling the baby Louisa. Both names do start with an L and have six letters, but the latter will likely go over better come kindergarten.coconut curry red lentil soup

coconut curry red lentil soup
5 from 3 votes
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Red Lentil Coconut Curry Soup

The red curry paste in this recipe lends Southeast Asian flavor and a hint of spiciness to this soup. It is sold in small jars in the Asian food section of many supermarkets and specialty stores. If you use whole red lentils instead of split, the soup will take longer to cook and likely require more water. I like to serve this with whole wheat pita bread that's been lightly brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and warmed in the oven.
Course Soup
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 440 kcal
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced fresh ginger
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (32 ounce box)
  • 1 13.5-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red curry paste (more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 1/4 cups split red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (or 3/4 teaspoon salt)
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour the olive oil into a large pot and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for several minutes until tender. Add the garlic and ginger, sauté another minute or so.

  2. Add the broth, coconut milk, and curry paste and stir to blend. Stir in the lentils, brown sugar, and fish sauce and stir well. 

  3. Turn heat to high. When the soup boils, turn the heat down until the broth simmers.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes and add the carrots and zucchini. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes until the lentils are tender and the soup has thickened. Add the juice of the lime and stir well. If the soup is too thick for your liking, add a little water. Taste and add salt, if desired.

  5. Serve in bowls with cilantro scattered over the top to garnish.

 

Comments

11.05.2012 at 9:34 AM #

Pamela

Very special post Katie!

11.05.2012 at 4:40 PM #

Anne Mullen

I can’t wait to try this! I’ve never met a lentil soup I didn’t like, and I’d eat curried cardboard, so this sounds perfect. Thanks Katie, and welcome to Louisa.

11.07.2012 at 2:23 PM #

Emily S.

Made this last night. It was terrific! Thank you.

11.07.2012 at 2:23 PM #

katiemorford

Great to hear, Emily.

11.29.2012 at 4:32 PM #

Anne Mullen

I finally made this last night, fearing ti would be beyond my very meager kitchen abilities, but not only was it easy, it was delicious! Another lentil soup to love. Thank you, Katie.

12.27.2012 at 8:04 PM #

Stephanie

Hi Katie,

I’m snowed in and am curious to know if there are any acceptable substitutes for the fish sauce. Would oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, or plum sauce do the trick?

Many thanks!

Stephanie

12.27.2012 at 8:04 PM #

katiemorford

The fish sauce gives a saltiness to the soup. You can season it with salt in place of the fish sauce

01.10.2013 at 5:36 PM #

Jillian

I enjoyed your recipe very much! I didn’t have any light coconut milk in a can, so I substituted unsweetened refrigerated coconut milk. I left out the brown sugar and used 5 drops of stevia instead. I think in the future I would leave out the sweetness and add more spice. One last modification- I used plain filtered water since I didn’t have any broth.

Thanks for the recipe!!! You are very creative!

01.10.2013 at 5:36 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks Jillian. Love all your modifications. This is definitely a recipe that can be tinkered with according to what you like. It’s also tasty with a squeeze of lime.

01.21.2013 at 3:44 PM #

Jason

Excellent. I left out the zucchini and used coconut oil instead of olive oil. I also didn’t have red curry paste so I used green curry paste and added red chili paste. When I make this again I will halve the amount of brown sugar. It was a little sweeter than I wanted it to be. Other than that, its a great recipe.

07.18.2013 at 7:54 AM #

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Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked
submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all
that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

11.11.2013 at 6:29 PM #

Lisa

Just came across this recipe while searching the web. Made the recipe for dinner tonight, and it’s wonderful. Thanks for posting.

11.11.2013 at 6:29 PM #

katiemorford

So glad, Lisa. I always appreciate the feedback.

12.12.2013 at 8:54 PM #

Helen

I just wanted to let you know that I just made this recipe (with a few changes) and it turned out truly delicious! I was planning to make red lentil dal, but after talking to a friend about our favorite kinds of curry, I was craving red thai curry. This was the ideal solution!

The changes I made were: I used soy sauce in place of the fish sauce to make it vegan, left out the zucchini (didn’t have any), used coconut oil, used full fat coconut milk, and left out the sugar (for my tastebuds it really tasted sweet enough without it!).

Thank you for this wonderful and simple recipe!

Helen

12.12.2013 at 8:54 PM #

katiemorford

Hi Helen

So glad you liked the soup and I appreciate you sharing your changes … everyone’s tastebuds are different and your ideas might be just right for another reader. Thank you.

01.09.2014 at 3:42 PM #

Sarah

This story brought loving tears to my eyes! So sweet and tender. I love that Louisa had a food nickname before she was even born. Hopefully it’ll stick around as an occasional nickname! The soup sounds quite yummy, too. I’ll have to try it out soon.

01.09.2014 at 3:42 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks Sarah. Those newborn days are so precious.

02.13.2014 at 5:50 AM #

Micheal

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09.22.2014 at 8:04 PM #

Christina

I made this for the first time tonight – delicious!! And it is super easy!! I will definitely add this to my favorite recipe binder. Thanks so much for so many delicious, wholesome recipes – I really appreciate it!

09.22.2014 at 8:04 PM #

katiemorford

I appreciate the feedback Christina. Glad you think it’s a keep. It’s funny I was just planning to pull this one out myself, now that it’s fall!

12.01.2014 at 2:14 PM #

Sonali- The Foodie Physician

I love all types of lentil soups and the ingredients you used in this one sound amazing together!

12.04.2014 at 5:48 PM #

Ivette

Overall, my bowl of soup was delish!! BUT I used cream of coconut instead of coconut milk -making the soup super duper sweet (in addition to its spiciness). Suggestion needed to balance out the sweetness to the rest of the soup.

12.04.2014 at 5:48 PM #

katiemorford

Glad you thought it was tasty. I’d probably leave out the brown sugar and maybe use less cream of coconut and more broth.

12.20.2017 at 6:31 PM #

Susan V.

Thank you! I made this two nights ago and it was super delicious! And it put some homemade vegetable broth to good use that was in the freezer. I would definitely make this again, which is the true test of a good recipe for me. Enjoyed the leftovers for lunch at work too!

04.17.2018 at 8:03 PM #

Katie

Very easy and yummy! Prep and cook time was short, which was another plus. I loved the flavor of the soup, texture was great and the lentils were good! I have never attempted this kind of soup and was looking for something a little different than our norm. I skipped the fish sauce and would probably add extra veggies next time. Will def. make again!

04.18.2018 at 3:43 PM #

katiemorford

So glad you liked it….and always room for more vegetables in my book. Thanks for the comment!

Katie

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