Cheap Eats — Red Lentil Soup

by Katy on March 19, 2011 · 27 comments

I’ve always liked lentil soup, but I’ve recently discovered that when the regular brown lentils are replaced with red lentils, the result is silky smooth and rather delicious. This discovery was prompted by one of my mother’s guest cottage tenants who left behind a huge unopened bag of red lentils from an Indian grocery store. I was hesitant to bring it home, as such a big bag was just inviting a burden of “What am I supposed to do with all these lentils?” into my kitchen. But then I remembered that my step-mother Lindy had written a red lentil soup recipe into the blog comments awhile back. This soup has been such a hit at my house, that I finally used up the last of the lentils last night. (I think there had been five pounds!) and I now need to search out where there’s an Indian grocery store in town.

Lindy and Katy’s Red Lentil Soup:


  1. 3 Tbsp oilve oil
  2. 1 onion
  3. 2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
  6. 1-1/2 cup red lentils
  7. 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth


  • Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven style pan on the stovetop and add the chopped onion. Saute until translucent.
  • Add the salt, curry powder, ginger and the red lentils and stir for 30 seconds or so.
  • Add the stock and let simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Blend the soup when the lentils have softened, either using an immersion blender or your blender.

This soup smells wonderful while cooking and heats up nicely as leftovers. Like any recipe, it can be tinkered with by adding extra veggies, or whatever appeals to you.

I think the soup cost less than 50ยข as the lentils were free, but even with store bought ingredients, this recipe can be a frugal ace in the hole without appearing like a cheap-o meal. Enjoy!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey March 19, 2011 at 9:09 am

You can buy red lentils in the bulk section at Fred Meyer. That’s what I do! I’ll have to try this recipe, because lentil soup is one of my favorites.


Katy March 19, 2011 at 10:31 am


I guess I knew this, but figured I could buy them much cheaper from an ethnic store.

Probably will get them from Fred Meyer as well, as that’s walking distance form my house.

Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚



elizabethk March 19, 2011 at 10:53 am

So glad that you like red lentils. They are a fabulous source of protein. I make a version of the above soup, you need a soup pot and a small frying pan. cook the lentils in water with two to three cups of chopped veggies ( I have found brocoli/cauliflower/carrot to work best form me, and sometimes add onion), use immersion blender and puree. You can also mash with a potato masher if you want to have a few chunks in the soup.
In small frying pan heat olive oil, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp tumeric, and 1/2 to 3/4 tsp ginger. sprinkle a little bit of cayenne pepper for warmth. Stir spices in oil until they heat through and have a warm aroma, then add to soup and stir. I leave this simmer about 20 more minutes before I eat it. As with your version, it tastes great reheated. The amounts of spices may need to be increased, depending on the size of the pot of soup you are making.


Mary Kay March 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

I buy them at the regular grocery store. I believe they carry Goya brand. They were not cheaper in the Indian store that I went in, but the bags were much larger. This is the recipe I often use:


ozlem a. March 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Wow! It was such a surprise to see a Turkish lentil package (the brand would be LOOKTASTE in English, though I’ve never heard of it here in Turkey ๐Ÿ™‚ on the non-consumer advocate. Red lentil soup is a staple in Turkish households and I add anything that I’d like my kid to eat such as carrots and celery root with great results. It both tastes good and is good for you.


Heather March 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Our household loves lentils. I make a delicious curried lentils and a lentil gratin utilizing red lentils. Truly delicious. I can post the recipes if others are interested. Glad you liked your meal and were able to eat the lentils. I agree that a foreign market will be more economical. My sister just ordered a 25# organic bag from her grocery store. They will give her the wholesale price.


Tracy March 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I’m interested in the recipes…I’m interested. Thanks


The Mrs March 20, 2011 at 6:12 am

SO interested.


Heather March 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Cheese and Lentil Gratin sourced from Albion Cooks

Curried Lentils are an easy dish to make. I add whatever veggies I have on hand. A good combination is cauliflower and green beans. Potatoes are good too.
*Boil 2 cups red lentils in water until desired consistency. Pour in one can of coconut milk. Add 1 heaping tbsp curry paste, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, and 1 tbsp of your favorite chile sauce. You may need to adjust the spices as it can get quite hot. We love it.

Another favorite is Honey Baked Lentils, but it utilizes green/brown lentils.
1 c lentils
2 c water
2 Tbsp honey
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ginger
1 clove garlic
1 small onion diced
salt and pepper to taste
Bake in a covered dish at 350 until tender (approx 1.5 hr)



Ani Mia March 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

There is another great recipe on called Sweet Potato, apple, carrot and red lentil soup. It is amazing, inexpensive and very filling. Lentils are new to me and I am loving them.


teri March 19, 2011 at 4:53 pm

You can also stick in a handful of brown rice to make it a complete protein meal. I love lentils, but my husband won’t eat them. ๐Ÿ™
He won’t even taste them, and says they are gross. His mother taught him to only eat a few picky things like she did. Sad.


Provincial Homemaker March 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Oh I am so glad to read this. Maybe I can finally get those red lentil lurkers out of my kitchen cupboard!


The Mrs March 20, 2011 at 6:11 am

What a timely recipe. When I was helping my brother move – a longish time ago – he gave me a bag of lentils that I could never quite figure out how to use.

And now that we’re trying to keep our grocery spending down to $34.27 for the next two weeks, it’s time to use the lentils. And there’s a limit to how many tomato based, pig-flavoured recipes I want to use, a way to make them with the ginger I already have in my freezer is awesome.


ltg March 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

how surprising it is to see a turkish brand on your blog!
here is a very easy to cook version of red lentil soup (i don’t use bouillons or crushed tomato, rarely add some tomato paste if i feel like it)
melt some butter with a little dry mint on top and it’s a totally different soup.
i love red lentil! ๐Ÿ™‚


Deb March 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

I make a very similar soup and we love it! I add:
1 bunch of chopped, lightly wilted kale leaves (stripped of stem)
1 large can chopped tomatoes with juice
1 tsp tandori, 1 tsp turmeric in addition to the curry
1 large russet potato, chopped into small pieces

Serve it with a squeeze of lime and a dallop of greek yogurt on top, with warm Indian Naan bread. Heaven.


Kristin September 19, 2012 at 6:53 am

Something similar to this is my go-to recipe when I have a bag of carrots that are starting to look sketchy–I just throw them in (about 2 pounds with this size recipe). I also throw in a glop of ginger/garlic paste. If I am in a hurry, I don’t even bother to saute onion and then I can prep this in under 5 minutes. All three of my young kids (2, 4, and 6) love this “orange soup”.


angela wilder January 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

thank you. I tried red lentils in another recipe and didn’t like the results. As a soup I think it would be better.


Kimberly in So Cal October 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for years and years, but today was the first time I made this soup. I had planned on split pea, but was low on those, and remembered that you had a recipe for red lentil soup, which I had plenty of. I doubled the recipe (still using only one onion), added garlic, and used the Better Than Bouillon vegetable base for the broth. It was so delicious that DH wanted more (but the rest is for Saturday). Both of my teen boys liked it, even my picky one. I served it with the one hour bread and a simple cabbage salad — cheap, delicious, and satisfying (in more ways than one)!


Katy October 28, 2015 at 6:10 pm



Emmy Van De Roer-Van Aken February 18, 2021 at 5:35 am

Just made this soup and it was a hit! Thank you!


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