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Spiced red lentil soup [Recipe]

This is nourishing, cheap and disarmingly healthy; it also works well with a tin of coconut milk. Slightly thinner than your standard dahl, it's a fine storecupboard raid for a warming winter supper. I expect it would freeze nicely, too.

Serves 4

300g split red lentils (masoor dal)
30g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Small lump ginger, skinned and finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry roasted and lightly crushed
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp hot chilli powder, or more if you like
2 bay leaves
1 or 2 tomatoes from a tin, chopped, with their juice
1l chicken stock (or Marigold bouillon in an emergency)
1 lime, natural yoghurt and fresh coriander, to serve

Thoroughly wash and drain the lentils. Heat the butter in a medium pan and sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until they're softened and lightly coloured. Add the spices, stir well and cook gently for two or three minutes.

Add the lentils, bay, tomatoes and stock to the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so until the lentils are beautifully soft. Taste and correct seasoning.

Fish out the bay leaves, then decant half the soup into a blender and blitz thoroughly, returning it to the pan. Pour into warmed bowls and garnish with a dollop of natural yoghurt, a good squeeze of lime and some fresh coriander.


  1. Lentil soups or dhals are my favourite go-to dinner when I'm totally skint (every two weeks, then...). They're so comforting, cheap and easy to make. Lovely picture.

  2. I've always made dal to eat with rice but never thought of making it into soup. Nice.

  3. absolutely, Ollie, it freezes very well, it's always waiting for me in the freezer when i get back home after a long haul flight. i love your recipe- and the addition of chicken stock and ginger is tops, love it. beautiful photo, too. simple and elegant. x shayma

  4. Looks delicious. I expect I'd have to go to eleven different shops here in Hamburg to buy the ingredients.

  5. Lentils are amazing, aren't they? Dry, rattly little things are transformed with a little bit of love. Gorgeous pic. I loved the rustic bowl - very lentil-y.

  6. Lizzie - They're brilliant, aren't they? Cheap and comforting.

    Su-Lin - Thanks. Can't say I invented it!

    Shayma - What a lovely thing to come home to. I've got some in the freezer now for emergencies.

    Andrzej - Mail order?

    Helen - Thank you! I love that bowl too.