Curried red lentil soup with sweet potatoes and greens is nourishing and deeply satisfying. When you want a robust cool-weather vegan soup quickly, red lentils are a good base, cooking up in just 15 to 20 minutes.
I highly recommend making red lentils a pantry staple.They cook to a warm golden color in about half the time compared with brown and green lentils. Look for them in natural food stores as well as well-stocked supermarkets.
With a mildly earthy flavor, red lentils are often used in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, often spiked with curry and other bold seasonings. They cook to a fairly mushy consistency, making them fitting for dal, soups, and stews.
What kind of greens? Any variety of chard can be used in this soup (Swiss, green, or rainbow, for example— learn more in our Guide to Chard); or for a no-prep option, you can go with baby spinach.
What to serve with red lentil soup
Serve the soup with a store-bought flatbread. You can also make your own chapatis in the short time the soup is simmering, if you’re feeling adventurous —they’re not difficult!
I like to serve a refreshing salad as the next course. Mixed Greens and Pear Salad with Maple-Glazed Pecans is a lovely foil to this soup’s flavors.
Recipe is from Vegan Soups and Stews for All Seasons by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and sorted
- 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or bottled ginger
- 2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander or cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 to 8 ounces chard (any variety) or spinach
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the water, followed by the lentils, sweet potatoes, and seasonings.
- Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat. Simmer gently with the cover ajar until the lentils are mushy and the potatoes are done, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the greens, remove stems and midribs, then slice into narrow shreds. Stir into the soup along with the lemon juice. If the soup is too thick, adjust the consistency with a small amount of water.
- Continue to simmer gently until the greens are just done, about 5 minutes for spinach and 10 minutes for chard. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at once, or if time allows, let the soup stand off the heat for an hour or two.
- The soup thickens as it stands. Adjust the consistency with more water as needed; taste and adjust the seasonings as well. Heat through before serving.
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