This simple curry coconut red lentil soup makes use of one of my favorite shortcuts — Indian simmer sauce. You’ll find it in the Asian foods aisle of well-stocked supermarkets or natural foods stores. Red lentils themselves are a bit of a shortcut as compared to other types of lentils, since they cook up so quickly.
Available in (usually) 12-ounce jars, Indian simmer sauces are a fantastic starter for vegan soups like this one, giving you a robust, complex flavor without having to measure and mix lots of spices. Serve this hefty, warming soup with a fresh flatbread.
Tips for a delicious curry red lentil soup
Indian simmer sauce: Choose from any one of several vegan varieties of Indian simmer sauce, and make sure to read labels, as some do contain dairy.
Look for dairy-free options including Goan coconut, Kashmir curry, Jalfrezi, and Madras curry. Flavors range from from mild to spicy. Here are more authentic-tasting recipes using Indian simmer sauce.
Tiny red lentils cook up quickly (15 to 20 minutes) and I highly recommend considering them a pantry staple. When you want a robust cool-weather soup fairly quickly, red lentils are a good bet. Bought in bulk, they’re economical as well. Here’s another delicious soup that uses them as a base — Curried Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Greens.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 14-ounce can light coconut milk
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric (for brighter color), optional
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh or squeeze-bottle ginger
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 12-ounce jar Indian simmer sauce, any vegan variety (see Note)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish, or more, as desired
- Sriracha or other hot sauce for serving, optional
- Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.
- Add 4 cups water along with the coconut milk, lentils, cumin, optional trumeric, ginger. and lemon juice. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the lentils are mushy, about 20 minutes.
- Once the lentils are done, if you’d like a smoother soup, insert an immersion blender and process until the soup is smoothly pureed. Or, puree in batches in a food processor. However, if you’d like the soup to have more texture, you can skip this step.
- Stir in the simmer sauce. If the soup is too thick, adjust the consistency with just a bit more water. Cook just until piping hot, then season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish each serving with cilantro or parsley, then pass around hot sauce to whoever wants to spice up their soup.
- This soup thickens as it stands. Thin with water as needed and adjust the seasonings.
Indian simmer sauces are available in the Asian foods section of well-stocked supermarkets, and they are delicious! For this dish, some choices of dairy-free simmer sauces include Madras curry (which is fairly spicy) Goan coconut, rogan josh, and jalfrezi.
If you like using Indian simmer sauces as soup starters, you may also enjoy …