Best Lentil Soup

Meet my favorite lentil soup recipe! This vegan lentil soup is delicious, made with tomato, creamy coconut milk, ginger, and a bit of curry.

Best Lentil Soup

This post is for my mom. I made the first version of this lentil soup a few months ago when my family came over for dinner, and every time I’ve seen her since, she’s asked, “where is that lentil soup recipe?”

That says a lot about this soup because my mom has very strict criteria for recipes that make it into her rotation. They have to be quick to make with minimal prep, they have to be easy enough to eventually memorize (because cooking goes faster that way), and they have to be either batch-able or freezer-friendly so she can eat them for multiple meals. Right now, her regular rotation includes this Butternut Squash Soup, the Brussels Sprout & Coconut Rice from our first cookbook, and after today… this lentil soup recipe. I’m sure she’s making her shopping list as you read this.

Vegetarian lentil soup recipe ingredients

Why I Love This Lentil Soup Recipe

This soup has been on repeat in our house this winter, and there’s good reason for that. Here’s why I love this lentil soup (and why I think you will, too):

  1. It’s made with pantry ingredients like dry lentils, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices, so it’s easy to whip up without a trip to the store.
  2. It’s creamy and comforting, thanks to the coconut milk – perfect for chilly winter nights.
  3. With a pop of lime juice and ginger, this cozy soup has bright flavors that keep it feeling fresh & light.
  4. This is not a boring lentil soup! Curry powder and red pepper flakes make this the most exciting lentil soup ever. 🙂
  5. It comes together in just over 30 minutes (and most of the time is hands-off simmering), so you can enjoy it any night of the week.
  6. It freezes well! Make a big batch to keep on hand for busy weeknights or weekday lunches. Great for meal prep.
  7. It’s just really good.

Best Lentil Soup

How to Make My Favorite Lentil Soup

For how flavorful this curry lentil soup is, this recipe is simpler than you might think. Start by sautéing onions over medium heat, and then add ginger, garlic, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and sauté a few minutes more. Next, stir in the tomatoes, lentils, water, coconut milk, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes, and finish the soup with chopped cilantro and a hefty squeeze of lime.

As I mentioned above, I love how this vegetarian lentil soup is made with mostly pantry ingredients. It includes two of my favorite ingredients to keep on hand: French green lentils and diced fire-roasted tomatoes. Unlike brown lentils or red lentils, which often become mushy, the French green lentils hold their shape well in this soup, giving it lovely texture. They’re also a great choice for lentil salads, so they’re a staple in my pantry. Recently, they’ve stopped showing up at my grocery store so I buy them in bulk online which is really convenient because now I always have them in the pantry.

Diced fire-roasted tomatoes give this vegan lentil soup a smoky depth of flavor. They’re an excellent addition here, but I like to use them anytime a recipe calls for diced tomatoes. Try them in this lasagna or this spaghetti bolognese (it uses lentils, too!).

If you make this lentil soup recipe, please let me know how it turns out for you in the comments! I hope you love it.

Love this lentil soup recipe?

Try my many-veggie soup, ginger miso soup, or butternut squash soup next, or check out this post for 20 of my favorite soup recipes!


4.9 from 38 reviews

Best Lentil Soup

 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Meet my favorite lentil soup recipe! This vegan lentil soup is warming & delicious, made with tomato, creamy coconut milk, ginger, and a bit of curry.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon mild curry powder (I use this one)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup dried French green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup diced cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and lightly browned around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat to low as needed.
  2. With the heat on low, add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, lentils, water, coconut milk, ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer, stirring only occasionally, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. If your soup is too thick, stir in ½ to 1 cup more water to reach your desired consistency.
  4. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste and serve.
Notes
Store leftover soup in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it thickens too much in the fridge, stir in a little water while you reheat it until you reach your desired soup consistency. This soup also freezes well.

This recipe adapted from Ottolenghi’s recipe on Epicurious.

102 comments

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  1. Cathy
    02.27.2019

    This looks amazing and easy – I have similar priorities to your mom! If I only have regular diced tomatoes on hand, is there an easy way to replicate the fire-roasted flavor?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.27.2019

      Hi Cathy,

      It’ll work with regular diced tomatoes! There are a lot of other flavors going on here (the curry, ginger, garlic)… I’d just season to taste at the end with maybe a bit more black pepper and/or red pepper flakes depending on your spice preference.

    • April Driesslein
      03.21.2019

      You could use smoked paprika.

    • Quin
      05.19.2019

      This was really good . I only had no salt added diced tomatoes so I had to add a little sea salt but it was quick easy and tasted good . I think the fire roasted tomatoes would make it delicious. Thanks !!

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        05.25.2019

        Hi Quin, I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup!

  2. Richard Roati
    02.27.2019

    Hi There,
    I love this recipe and it makes me hungry!
    When should I add the lentils and water to the pot, before I add the tomatoes or after?
    Thank you for all the great recipes!
    Cheers,
    Richard Roati

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.27.2019

      all together in step #3 of the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

  3. Denise
    02.27.2019

    This looks delicious! I’m a new vegetarian and I don’t know what is the best coconut milk to buy. Can you please recommend one? Thank you! Anxious to try this recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.27.2019

      Hi Denise, any full-fat can of coconut milk will work here. Just avoid the cans that say “light,” and avoid the beverage type of coconut milk that’s in cartons because it’s not as rich and creamy as the cans.

      I find canned coconut milk in the asian aisle of the grocery store: the Thai Kitchen brand is usually in any store, I also regularly use the 365 Whole Foods brand as well as Trader Joe’s coconut milk.

      Hope that helps!

  4. Sarah
    02.27.2019

    I love an easy soup that can mostly be made with pantry staples! All of the ingredients in here sound delicious together 🙂

  5. Gena
    02.27.2019

    Love this recipe. A riff on my lentil soup recipe. I have some spinach and was thinking of adding it at the end. Any thoughts?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.27.2019

      I think spinach would be a great addition!

      • Gena
        02.28.2019

        Thank you! Looking forward to making it!

  6. Anthony Donofrio
    02.27.2019

    I regularly make curry and also tomato soup. So I will combine that idea using your recipe. I am sure it will be delicious. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Anthony, I hope you love the combo!

  7. Eha
    02.27.2019

    As I have been a curry ‘freak’ most of my life and lentils are my best friend this soup is most attractive especially with the colder months approaching Down Under. I presume your green lentils are what we here call Puy lentils . . . our very new Amazon seems to keep what you have used anyways 🙂 ! Usually mix my own curry spices but a ready one would simplify: for me I think a medium !!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Eha – yes, Puy lentils are the same, thanks for the note, I’ll add that to my description. I usually like a homemade curry mix too, but the pre-made kind flavors this recipe perfectly!

  8. Laura from middleofadventure.com
    02.28.2019

    Ahh this looks amazing and so warming! Adding this to my recipe list <3

  9. Julie from breakawaycoachingpdx.com
    02.28.2019

    I made this last night. It was so good. I did add a few extras…. spinach, potato and 1/2 cup of quinoa. It was more of a stew than soup. But so good. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Julie, that sounds like a wonderful stew! I love the idea of adding quinoa to thicken it even further.

  10. Frances F
    02.28.2019

    I made this recipe last night and it was not only easy, it was delicious too. I ran out of my beloved fire roasted tomatoes, but regular canned diced tomatoes worked just fine too.

    Can’t wait to make it with the fire roasted ones now!

    Everyone in the family loved it. Served it with some brown rice pilaf.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Frances, I’m so glad it was a hit with the whole family!

    • Frances F
      03.13.2019

      I’ve now made this 3 times since I first discovered it and it continues to be a big hit with my husband and 10 year old. I even added 16 ounces of fresh spinach that needed to be pushed and they gobbled it up. Delicious!

  11. paula
    02.28.2019

    This soup is amazing! I bought some tomato soup from Safeway that was pretty bland. I followed this recipe and instead of adding in the fire roasted tomatoes I just added the Safeway soup. What a transformation! Love the ginger! Thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Paula – that was so creative of you to jazz up the bland soup! I’m glad you loved the recipe 🙂

  12. Judy
    02.28.2019

    This soup is FANTASTIC! I made it last night, substituting vegetable broth for the water, then added a carrot for additional texture and taste. Definitely use the full-fat coconut – it’s worth every single extra calorie. This soup is healthy, rich, filling and absolutely delicious. Can’t wait to make it again.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Judy, I’m so glad you loved it!

  13. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com
    02.28.2019

    great way to eat lentils! Straight up lentil soup is sometimes too heavy for me, love that this is “cut” with tomato and coconut milk, great dish, thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Thanks Sabrina!

  14. Ann Moore
    03.01.2019

    I made it last night, with a couple of modifications. I used reduced fat coconut milk and added sweet potatoes to it. I also added some caraway seeds as garnish. My husband and I loved it. I think the sweet potatoes were a strong addition, the caraway seeds were also tasty but I would say further “complicated” the already complex flavor. This one’s going to make it into regular rotation! Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.01.2019

      Hi Ann, I’m so glad you both loved it! Yum, I’ll have to try sweet potatoes next time 🙂

  15. Andrew I
    03.01.2019

    Delicious! Served with some crusty bread and had a great meal. Thanks for creating and sharing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Andrew, I’m so glad it was a hit!

  16. Mary
    03.01.2019

    Made this for supper, it was easy, fast and delicious. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Mary, I’m so glad you loved it!

  17. Debbie
    03.02.2019

    I live at elevation and green lentils take forever to cook – like HOURS – do you think pre-cooking the lentils in an instant pot then using cooked lentils in the recipe would work as well? Or follow the recipe to step 3 then pressure cook the right amount of time for the beans instead of boiling/simmering?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.02.2019

      Hi Debbie, I would add the cooked lentils halfway through the simmer time in step 3. Let me know how that goes!

  18. Amber
    03.02.2019

    I made this for an easy family Friday night dinner, served with a crusty sourdough. It was so delicious and we all loved it, even the four year old. I thought she might have found it too spicy but much to my delight she demolished her bowl and asked for leftovers the next day too. Thanks for this simple but delicious recipe 🙂

  19. Beth
    03.03.2019

    This soup was incredibly delicious! Easy, hearty and satisfying. Definitely a keeper.

  20. Maxine
    03.03.2019

    I made this and doubled the batch and shared with my 84 yr old mom (as I cook for her every week). She loved it as it was very different than anything I’ve made for her. It’s like a super food in a pot! Delish!

  21. Aleksandra Huffman
    03.04.2019

    Just delicious! Please keep all your great recipes coming!

  22. Stacy
    03.05.2019

    This soup is delicious and soooo easy. I was a little short on the cup of lentils, but had some mushrooms I needed to use up, so added that as well and it tasted great. My two year old daughter even liked it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.05.2019

      Hi Stacey! I’m so glad it got rave reviews! So resourceful to add in the mushrooms 🙂

  23. Erica
    03.05.2019

    I made this last night for my family and we all loved it! It was a great meal for a cold and rainy winter day. I loved the variety of flavors. It was delicious. I used the curry powder that you suggested and I added a 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom because I love the taste of cardamom. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.05.2019

      Hi Erica, I’m so glad everyone loved it! I’m a huge cardamom fan too, that sounds delicious 🙂

  24. Gil
    03.06.2019

    I prepared this tonight as a light supper with a side of micro greens combo and served with Naan. Our friends who just returned from India were very impressed and finished the pot ! Another winner ! lol

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.09.2019

      Hi Gil, I’m so glad this one was a hit!

  25. Anthony Donofrio
    03.07.2019

    I made this soup on Monday and I must say that it is just delicious. The best combination of Tomato soup married to a mild Curry. This will be my go-to Tomato soup from now on. I made it exactly as the recipe was written and had no problems at all. Thank you!

    • Anthony Donofrio
      03.07.2019

      I forgot to rate it. It gets 5 stars.

      • Jeanine Donofrio
        03.09.2019

        Thank you, I’m so glad you loved it!!

  26. cori
    03.09.2019

    I try my best to not ask about substitutions, but I just found out I have a ton of food intolerances that include coconut. Dang! Do you think this soup would taste as good with regular milk? I know it would technically “work” as a substitue but coconut milk is so tasty in curried recipes.

  27. Ariel from valueandinvest.com
    03.10.2019

    I had all these ingredients on hand, so it really is a pantry recipe! I doubled it (we area family of 7 at dinner) and added so e smoked sun-dried tomatoes as I only had 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes. It worked great. Thanks for this flavorful and easy recipe… Was easy to make Sunday afternoon!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Ariel, I’m so glad everyone loved it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

  28. Laura
    03.10.2019

    Really yummy! I added some chopped fresh spinach and served with naan and it was a hit. I didn’t add the red pepper flakes, and used no spice curry powder and it was still “too spicy” for my little kids (eye roll), so next time I might do half fire-roasted tomatoes and half regular diced. Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Laura, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  29. Susan
    03.13.2019

    Love this recipe! I made a batch over the weekend and I’ve been taking it to work for lunch. It’s has a nice texture because of the lentils and the spice combination is warming and soothing in our ongoing cold weather

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Susan, I’m so glad you loved the recipe!

  30. Jeanette
    03.13.2019

    This is definitely one of my top 5 soups.
    Easy, satisfying, and delish!
    Kudos!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Thanks, Jeanette! I’m so glad you loved it so much!!

  31. Kristin
    03.13.2019

    This soup is perfectly delightful. Made substitutions based on what I had on hand (regular diced tomatoes for smoked, whole black mapte beans for French lentils, homemade lard for coconut milk – also added a dollop of sour cream to bowls) and it was a huge hit. Adding this to my regular rotation. Will make excellent lunches. Thank you so much!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.17.2019

      Hi Kristin, I’m so glad you loved it and that it was so flexible!

  32. Maxine
    03.17.2019

    We just finished our 2nd quart of this soup that I canned from a double batch I made earlier. Coming home from our weekend cabin after we’ve been working/finishing it to a nice bowl of this soup and some naan I had stashed in the freezer, made us so happy and contented. MUCH better for us than snagging a pizza on the way home 😉 I can’t wait to try some of the other soups!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.22.2019

      Hi Maxine, I’m so glad this one was such a hit! Let me know what other soups you try!

  33. Alyson
    03.18.2019

    This soup is to die for. My husband, mother, sister and one-year old all LOVED it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.22.2019

      Hi Alyson, I’m so glad your family loved it!

  34. Audrey
    03.19.2019

    I’ve made this twice, and absolutely love it! Not only does it smell DELICIOUS while simmering, but it also is so simple to make. Better still, it’s absolutely one of the tastiest lentil soups I’ve ever had. Thanks for such a great recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.22.2019

      Thanks Audrey, I’m so glad this one was fun to cook!

  35. April Driesslein
    03.21.2019

    I had some cooked lentils in the freezer, so this was a perfect soup to make with things on hand. It was quick and tasty!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.22.2019

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup!

  36. Diane
    03.26.2019

    Hi,
    I’m not a fan of green lentils, but like red and brown. What would you recommend in this case?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.26.2019

      Either would make it a more mushy stew (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’ll just be more stew-like). The green lentils keep their form better, which is why I prefer them in this soup. They take on the flavors of the soup itself, so I’d suggest giving them a try, you will probably like them in this form!

  37. Trish
    04.11.2019

    Made this for dinner last night and it was SO good!! Love adding vegetarian meals into the mix. Especially when they’re this flavorful!

  38. Lauren Farr
    04.15.2019

    Made this soup for the first time last night. Was easy and it’s delicious! Keeping this at the top of the favorite recipe stack for a go-to soup. My husband loved it too!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.17.2019

      I’m so happy to hear that you both loved it!

  39. Lauren
    04.15.2019

    I made it and it’s off the hook!!! Thanks for a great recipe to add to my go-to list!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      04.17.2019

      Hi Lauren, I’m so glad you loved it! Yay!

  40. Erin
    04.27.2019

    I made this tonight and my husband and I both loved it. I added extra red pepper flakes, as we like our spice, and it was delicious. It will be on our soup rotation from now on. Thanks! 😁

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.25.2019

      Hi Erin, apologies for my slow reply – I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup!

  41. Nicole
    06.02.2019

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My kids love this curry. They told me the other day that “Mom, this is the bestest and awesomest curry we have ever had!!” 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.07.2019

      Ha, I’m so glad everyone loved the recipe! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  42. Sonya
    06.12.2019

    Absolutely delicious!!

  43. Jan
    06.19.2019

    I made this today exactly as written and it is extraordinary! Just spicy enough, with a rich, mellow flavor and texture. It’s a winner for sure.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.22.2019

      Hi Jan, I’m so glad you loved it!

  44. Mary Beth
    07.08.2019

    I made this and it was delicious. Two thumbs up from my husband. I used my instant pot and put it on the soup/broth setting at the step where you set it to boil. Thanks Jeanine.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.10.2019

      Yay! I’m so glad you both loved it!

  45. Judy
    10.10.2019

    Your lentil soup is the Best. Thank you for sharing this flavorful easy to make recipe. My family loved it and they are omnivores!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.10.2019

      yay, I’m so glad you all loved it!

  46. Shannon
    10.19.2019

    I have been craving soup all week but felt too busy to make it. So last night I had a cozy Friday night in and made this soup and it was AMAZING. Definitely lives up to its name and is now my favorite lentil soup. I didn’t have the french green lentils, so I had to use regular brown/green lentils. But they still held up fine. I will buy some french green lentils on Amazon and try those next time. Thank you for the delicious recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.20.2019

      Hi Shannon, I’m so glad you loved the soup!

  47. Suzanne Tuescher
    10.29.2019

    Made this soup today – I use a variation of these ingredients in so many things, but the way that this soup comes together is so delicious!! I used fresh tomatoes, because they are still available in my area. I’m glad to have leftovers – so good!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.30.2019

      Hi Suzanne, I’m so glad you loved it!

  48. Allison
    11.04.2019

    What a find!!! Love this soup. A huge hit with my vegetarian family. The addition of fire roasted tomatoes a must. Gives such enhanced flavour. Quickly has become our new favourite!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.08.2019

      Yeahhh!! I’m so happy to hear that this was a hit with the family 🙂

  49. Kristin
    11.05.2019

    This soup is delicious. Love all the garlic and ginger. Yummy!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.08.2019

      Hi Kristin, I’m so glad you loved it!

  50. Kat Roberton
    11.07.2019

    #WINNNER

    This pantry recipe is a keeper and a must safe staple! I replaced red quiñoa for the green lentils and scallions for cilantro based on what I had available.

    Invited my neighbor over to break bread for the first time and my French roomie who can throw down in the kitchen was raving about the smell when she got home.

    Feeling a lil under the weather and the warming garlic and ginger in addition to a red serano (?) chile pepper made it exactly what my body needed today!

    So good!!! YUM.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.08.2019

      Hi Kat, I’m so glad you (and everyone) loved the soup!! I’ll have to try it with quinoa next time 🙂

  51. Lori
    11.10.2019

    Oooh just made this tonight. It was absolutely delicious!!

  52. Lea
    11.13.2019

    Love this recipe! Green lentils are actually the easiest to find in France, so I was very happy to find out you have a recipe with them.
    I added some smoked paprika as I only had normal canned tomatoes on hand but wanted that skoky taste and it worked out great

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      11.13.2019

      Hi Lea, I’m so glad you loved it!!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.