Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup

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Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup

As much as I prefer whole beans, I never can resist lentils. They are especially handy when you don't think to soak beans the night before dinner service. Wishing to incorporate more vegetables into my diet, soups are the perfect solution. Spicy, hearty and earthy, this soup will not fail to please. Served with a grain, you are in for one fine meal.

This recipe has become a staple in my kitchen and it should be a mainstay for every vegetarian who seeks wholesome, creative and traditional meals with a modern twist.

Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup

 Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on March 12, 2011

A richly flavored, spicy, earthy and hearty red lentil soup

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

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  • 2 1/2 cups red lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • generous handful of dried curry leaves
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 leek, both green and white parts, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 to 4 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • handful of kale, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour, diluted in 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • juice from 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
  • handful of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 to 2 fresh green chilies, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • Heat the ghee, butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Stir and fry for 1 minute or until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Toss in the curry leaves, stir, and then add the onions and leeks and cook for 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chilies, turmeric, cayenne, sugar, salt and asafetida.

  • Add the red lentils and 6 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

  • Mix in the rice flour and water, tomatoes, lime juice, kale and carrot. Again, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Partially blend the soup with a hand blender or in batches in a countertop blender or food, adding more water or broth as desired.

  • Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley, a sprinkle of saffron and a few strips of fresh chilies.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Madras-Style Red Lentil Soup

More lentil dishes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Spicy Lentil Qunioa Loaf
Greek Lentil Soup
Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Zucchini and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Mixed Lentil Dal
Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk

Audio Accompaniment: Arvo Part


Unknown said...

Looks superb dear, perfect for any meal, but weekend, it is all about comfort food :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Lentil soup is a definite favourite around here.

Johanna GGG said...

yum - soups are wonderful for getting all sorts of good food into your diet and they are so forgiving - this one looks delicious - and I laughed when I saw the top of your reading stack!

Ivy said...

Looks wonderful! I am a long-time fan of lentil soup, but have yet to try it with red lentils. Thank you for sharing!

Chitra said...

Never tried this.Looks superb !!

Indian Khana said...

Looks so gud..n beautiful

Mel said...

This sounds exactly like the type of soup I love the most, legumes, vegies and spices. I'll definitely be giving this one a try soon!