This comforting dal soup is made with hearty red lentils, Indian spices, and creamy coconut milk. It's easy to make and hearty enough for a meal! Vegan and gluten-free!
Is there anything better than a bit bowl of hearty soup? You know what I mean...soup that you can have as a meal by itself, or maybe just paired up with some salad or good bread?
Personally, soup is my favorite type of meal, especially during the colder months of the year.
Lately, this Indian dal soup is in heavy rotation in my house. It's a meal in and of itself! Red lentils are always satisfying, whether you're putting them into a hearty stew or delicious red lentil soup.
This soup is also easy enough for a weeknight, and makes for great leftovers (so we get several lunches or diners out of one batch!). It's made from ingredients that I tend to have on hand most of the time — almost all of which are pantry staples!
Let's talk about how this delicious Indian lentil soup comes together!
What You'll Need
- Canola oil. Feel free to substitute any high-heat oil, such as coconut, avocado, or vegetable oil.
- Spices. We're using garam masala, cumin seeds, and turmeric. If you absolutely insist, you can substitute ground cumin for seeds, but I highly recommend using the seeds for the best flavor and a little bit of texture. You can also include a bit of cayenne pepper if you prefer your dal soup on the spicy side.
- Split red lentils. Make sure your lentils are split. Whole lentils will take longer to cook and will have a different texture.
- Vegetable broth. I used Better Than Bouillon in seasoned vegetable flavor.
- Coconut milk. Make sure you're using canned coconut milk (not coconut milk beverage, sold in cartons). I recommend going with full-fat, but you can use light if you're trying to cut back on calories and/or fat.
- Canned diced tomatoes.
- Lemon juice. Use freshly squeezed juice for the best flavor.
- Fresh cilantro. Feel free to leave this out or substitute scallions if you're not a fan of cilantro.
How to Make Dal Soup
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
- Heat up your oil in a large pot, then add diced onion. Sweat the onion for a few minutes, until it starts to soften up, then stir in the garlic, ginger, and spices. Cook everything together very briefly, just until it becomes fragrant. Be careful: cooking this mixture too long can burn your spices and aromoatics, which can make your soup taste bitter.
- Stir in your broth and red lentils. Bring the soup up to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are very soft.
- Bring the soup up to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft.
- Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Let the soup continue simmering for about 5 minutes more. By now the lentils should be mostly broken down, giving your soup a thick, almost creamy texture.
- Take the pot off of the burner and stir in some fresh lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste. Serve your Indian lentil soup with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro.
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover red lentil dal soup will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can, but your soup will have a different flavor and texture. Red lentils cook up super soft, until they're basically falling apart, whereas many other varieties like green and brown stay in tact and won't give you a soup that's as thick and creamy. They also take longer to cook and may require additional liquid.
It's great on it's own, or paired up with a salad, some basmati rice, or homemade vegan naan.
More Indian-Inspired Vegan Recipes
- Easy Mixed Vegetable Curry
- Vegan Saag Paneer
- Mulligatawny Soup
- Vegan Butter Chicken
- Baked Cauliflower Manchurian
Like this recipe? If so, please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this one!
Easy Red Lentil Dal Soup
This comforting dal soup is made with hearty red lentils, Indian spices, and creamy coconut milk. It's easy to make and hearty enough for a meal!
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pinch cayenne pepper, optional (or to taste)
- 2 cups dried split red lentils
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 (14 ounce or 400 gram) can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place it over medium heat.
Give the oil a minute to heat up, the add the onion. Sweat the onion for about 5 minutes, until it becomes soft and translucent.
Stir in the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin seeds, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook everything for about 1 minute, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.
Stir in the lentils and broth. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Lower the heat and allow the soup to simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are very soft.
Stir in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Continue simmering for about 5 minutes, until the soup is very thick and the lentils have fallen apart.
Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the lemon juice. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh cilantro. Serve.
Dear Alissa, I'm Lilian from Tyrol, Austria. I found you as I was looking for a recipe for an African Peanut Soup. I love your blog and I've subscribed immediately. I'm going to try some of your recipes. My question: how much is a cup? Do you mean 0,25 l? Imean your recipe for a red lentil soup. Thamk you so much for your answer!
Warm greetings - Lilian
P.S. I was really moved reading about "golabki" - a traditional Polish dish reminding me of my childhood! I was born in Poland...
Alissa Saenz says
Glad you like the recipes! I hope you enjoy any of them that you try! :) A cup is pretty close to 0.25 liters. I just added a button below the ingredients list in my red lentil soup recipe - you can use it to toggle between metric and US measurements, so I think that should help. I've slowly been adding this button to my recipes but haven't gotten to them all yet. If you ever come across one where it's missing and would be helpful just let me know - it only takes me a minute to add it!
I made this for my spinning group (spinning wheels, not exercise bikes!) It was well liked by all. My husband and I loved it. Will be making this recipe again!
Soooooo good! Perfect as written.
I have made this twice. It is delicious and very easy! The only change is I used tamarind concentrate instead of lemon juice. I am so bad at knowing how much salt to add when a recipe just says to season with salt/add salt to taste. I ended up adding 3/4 tsp. I don't know if that is too much or too little. I also made your naan recipe. Yum!
Very good soup, even better than Whole Foods!