Spiced Red Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
curried lentil and barley vegetable soup

There are times when you don't plan ahead for dinner and you have to make do with staples, unless you want to run out to the grocery store, but that is not always a viable or preferred option. This is one such soup that I put together one afternoon employing the use of odds and ends of produce and basics that I usually always have on hand. The addition of barley and coconut milk add a silky texture to this earthy soup packed full of plenty of root vegetables and robust tomatoes.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables on hand to include in the soup, such as bell peppers, parsnips, green beans, corn and potato, to name just a few. The soup is best with about 3 - 4 cups of vegetables.

Yes, the weather has turned cool again, but I do enjoy soup year round.

 Spiced Red Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup Spiced Red Lentil, Barley and Vegetable Soup
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on April 21, 2015

Hearty and nourishing soup of lentils, barley and vegetables simmered in a lightly spiced broth of tomatoes, coconut milk and Indian seasonings

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  • 4 to 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves or a small handful of crushed dried curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 to 4 green chilies, seeded and minced
  • 3 to 4 cups assorted diced vegetables (I used 2 large carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 6 small Brussels sprouts and 2/3 cup frozen peas)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2/3 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 2/3 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 5 to 6 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh or dried fenugreek (methi) leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking water, and chop. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or soup pot. When hot, toss in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds if using, and bay leaves or curry leaves. When the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop, quickly stir in the asafetida and then add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and chilies and stir for another minute. Now add the chopped vegetables and stir for another 5 minutes. Toss in the turmeric, coriander and paprika, and stir for another minute.

  • Now add the fresh tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and tamarind paste to the pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until thickened, stirring often. Stir in the lentils and barley and pour in the reserved sun-dried tomato soaking water, coconut milk and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the lentils and barley are soft. Add up to 1 cup more water if needed.

  • Stir in the garam masala, fenugreek leaves, sea salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Simmer for another few minutes and serve hot.

Makes 6 servings

lentil, barley vegetable soup

More lentil soups to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Turkish-Style Lentil Soup
Creamy Brown Lentil, Barley and Mushroom Soup
Lentil Soup with Prunes and Apricots
Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes)


Joanne said...

I've been making a lot of odds and ends meals lately and always forget to make soup! How silly of me. Looks delicious!

Nancy said...

Lisa, I'm in the U.S. and I'm not sure what you mean by green chilies. Are they they green bell sweet peppers we are familiar with or are you referring to hot peppers like jalapenoes? Help, I'm ready to make this.

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Nancy. Green chilies are hot peppers that are commonly used in Indian cooking. If you can't find them, then I would recommend using jalapenoes instead.

Nancy said...

Thanks! I had a couple jalapenoes that I used. I just threw out some hot finger peppers because they were starting to go and they probably would have been perfect. Soups all done and it tastes good. I made this to have tomorrow to let it age. Soups and stews always seem to taste even better the next day. Thanks for the recipe, :)

The Public Foodie said...

I literally tried red lentils for the first time yesterday! I bought a bag and made chilli and I still have plenty lentils left so I will trying your soup recipe!

Cee x