Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thai Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk

Coming home to a bowl of lentil soup is cozy. Here, the humble red lentil is elevated to new heights. Made with coconut milk, the soup has a creamy texture and a healthy dose of omega 3′s. The flavors of ginger and chili work beautifully with the mellow lentils, perking them up. Thai basil and lime are fresh finishing touches.

Being Middle Eastern, I’ve eaten my share of lentil soups. This time, I ventured out of the box, wanting something a little different...something smooth and luxurious with a more lively flavor. 

I brought this soup into work with me. My co-worker, who is married to a Middle Eastern man, and who loves traditional red lentil soup, said she adored this version. Another coworker wanted to know how I got it to taste so bright and creamy. They both asked me for the recipe. So I decided to share it here.
This is no ordinary red lentil soup. For the purposes of the photo, I served it in a bowl. But I much prefer slurping it with a soup spoon out of a big mug with crusty buttered bread on the side. The soup is even better the second day. It reheats very well. It is a good dish to make ahead for company. So creamy and rich. Healthy too...but you’d never know it by the taste. Featured on Healthy Aperture.

Thai Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Serves 8

Some notes:
This is a delicately spiced, healthy lentil soup.  It’s really not spicy-hot.  Sriracha sauce can be served on the side for those who like spicy food.  Sriracha is wonderful in this soup, playing against the rich coconut milk and creamy lentils. 
Alternatively, you can bump up the heat by adding more Thai chili peppers to the recipe. Removing the seeds and veins of a chili pepper will help control the heat. 

Please trust me and seek out Rapunzel No Salt Organic Vegetable Bouillon. Rapunzel is my choice for all my soups when I don’t have the will or time to make my own stock or broth. It has a clean, fresh taste that is delicious on its own. I highly recommend this brand without reservation. This is not a sponsored post. If you want to add your favorite boxed or canned broth then omit the water and bouillon and use 8 cups of broth/stock.

Red Lentils are salmon colored. Once cooked, they turn a light brown. They cook up in no time, usually under 30 minutes. No pre-soaking is necessary either. I just rinse them and proceed with the recipe. 

If you don’t feel like roasting a pepper, you can omit that step. Instead of roasting it, saute a chopped pepper with the onions until soft. But I highly recommend adding the warm flavors from a roasted pepper.

I love using Vietnamese cinnamon in all my recipes. It has a bold, sweet taste that is unmatched. But use whatever cinnamon floats your boat.   

A few squeezes from a juicy lime, Thai or regular basil and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt or grey celtic sea salt finishes the soup with freshness and vitality. 


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of finely chopped carrots
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced in half and seeded. You pick the color.
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated. 
  • 1-2 red or green Thai bird’s-eye peppers or one jalapeno pepper, diced. 
  • 2 limes
  • 2 cups of dried red lentils. I like to rinse them first.
  • 8 vegetable bouillon cubes ( see notes) 
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/3 of a can of coconut milk  
  • Coconut oil or neutral tasting oil for cooking
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • Serve suggestions: lime wedges, lime zest, Thai basil or regular basil, flaky sea salt or celtic sea salt, sprinkle of cinnamon, sriracha sauce


Place the sliced pepper, cut side down, on an oven safe baking sheet lined with tinfoil and broil on high until the skin is charred and blackened. Remove from the oven, place the pepper in a covered bowl or wrap in tin foil to steam. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin and discard. Chop and set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute the onion, chili and carrots in some coconut oil (or neutral tasting oil) with a pinch of salt until soft. Once the vegetables are soft, add 8 cups of water, the vegetable bouillon cubes, the roasted pepper, lentils, ginger and a half a teaspoon of cinnamon. I grate the ginger directly into the soup with a microplane zester. Adjust the salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk (try to take some of the cream that settles at the top of the can), a few squeezes of lime juice and as much as the reserved ground cinnamon you’d like. Serve with lime wedges, lime zest, dusting of cinnamon, sprinkle of sea salt, sriracha and torn basil. Enjoy!

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