Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup

Photography by Devon Francis

I’ve become soft.  That’s what my East Coast family and friends tell me.  LA has had an unusally cold and rainy winter and I can’t get warm.  By “cold,” I mean below 60 degrees, but above 40 degrees.  I know my friends in the midwest have NO sympathy for me.  I wouldn’t either.  But what to do if you feel cold?  Make a warming soup.

I can’t stop making this winner from Bon Appetit and I thought it would be easier for all of us if the recipe had a permanent place on my website.  If I didn’t have to recipe-test all the time, I would make this soup more often!  It is everything I love:  comforting, easy, flavorful, nutritious, inexpensive and makes use of pantry staples.  I mean, what more could you ask for?  The dominant flavor here is the curry powder, but it’s not overwhelming.  My family liked it the way it’s written, I would not have minded a little more or even a little more heat because I really like spicy food.  Red lentils have become a regular ingredient around here and they’re easy to find.  I love the way they turn into mush when they’re cooked – pure comfort!  Plus they have loads of fiber and protein making this an excellent meatless meal or weekend lunch.  My son takes leftovers in his thermos with a few whole grain crackers!

Back to warming foods for a minute.  If you are trying to stay warm, please do not drink cold drinks, smoothies, and raw foods/salads.  These all have a cooling thermal nature and will work against your desire to feel warm.  Warm soups and cooked foods, ginger and spices, black pepper and broths are where it’s at.  I hope you all have a wonderful President’s Weekend!  Check back for my dinner planner which I always post on Friday nights.  If you are participating in my online cooking classes, the February class is UP!

Please tag me on Instagram @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman so I can see all your creations. I love seeing what you are cooking up!!

You can shop the tools I used for this recipe by clicking on the images below:

5.0 from 2 reviews
Curried Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Soup
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 2½-inch piece ginger, peeled, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon medium curry powder (such as S&B)
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus leaves with tender stems for serving
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Cook onion, stirring often, until softened and golden brown, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add lentils and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes, ½ cup cilantro, a generous pinch of salt, and 2½ cups water; season with pepper. Set aside ¼ cup coconut milk for serving and add remaining coconut milk to saucepan.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft but not mushy, 20–25 minutes. Season soup with more salt and pepper if needed.
  6. To serve, divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with reserved coconut milk and top with more cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Do Ahead: Soup (without toppings) can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.


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  1. What a delicious soup!!!! I added one pound of chicken that I poached. It was a yummy addition. I am thinking this recipe must have been part of a recent weekly meal planner or post. Thank you for re-introducing it! (AND I appreciate how easy it was to prepare.)

    • Yum. Love that! This is one of my favorite comfort soup recipes. Thrilled to hear you loved it, Leslie.

  2. This was delicious! I am going to make it again (second time this week!) What would you add to make it a little hotter? Curry, red pepper or both? Thanks!

    • Either cayenne or red pepper flakes will make it hotter, but cayenne is very hot, so a little goes a long way.

  3. I was going to make this for my family which includes a toddler. He loves all kinds of food but hasn’t quite built up a tolerance for a lot of spice. Do you think it could still be flavorful if I dropped the red pepper flakes? Thank you!

    • Absolutely! And feel free to add a little sriracha to taste to your bowl if you like.

  4. So yummy!!! I made With bone broth and added some sautéed shrimp. Delightful! Thank you!

    • Perfect! xo

  5. Love this recipe ! We’re serving to guest for lunch next weekend. Would you sub parsley for an anti-cilantro person or have another recommendation ?

    • I would leave it out or serve it on the side for everyone else. Chives might also work, but the herbs aren’t a deal breaker here.

  6. Question on substitution: can you think of a sub for the canned tomatoes? Canned tomatoes don’t work on scd diet.

    • Never mind… I guess I can use fresh tomatoes

      • Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes. Just give them a quick blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds so you can remove the skin and seeds. Puree in blender.

  7. what variation of curry powder do you recommend using in this recipe (i.e. Madras curry, Sweet Curry Powder, Maharajah Curry Powder)? There are so many variations I’m never sure which one to use.

    • I use Simply Organic curry powder which is a great all-purpose (sweet) curry powder. It is similar to Madras curry powder, but much less hot (aka spicy.) Maharajah is fancy curry powder. It has premium ingredients, including saffron, and a rich flavor, but also sweet.

  8. My family also loves this recipe! In case anyone is looking for substitutions I’ve used Thai curry paste too and I’ve used bone broth or stock for the water. Sometimes I add chopped greens to my bowl. Such a wonderful recipe; we’re actually having it tomorrow night. Happy Valentine’s Day, Pamela!

    • Nice! Good for people to realize that Thai curry paste and curry powder are totally different and with different flavors, but I can see this soup being equally good with curry paste!

      • I do like it better with the traditional curry powder but one night my husband said something like “you’re making curry? Maaaaybe thai curry… hint hint hint” so I switched it up.

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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