Thursday, October 8, 2009

Soothing Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

Lentils are one of my comfort foods and red lentils just deliver that soothing effect to our whole well being. It must be their vibrant, yet earthy and soothing color. It’s good to have split red lentils all the time as they are a good source of protein and fiber and they also cook in less than 30 minutes. And when they are used in soups, they melt into the liquid resulting in a creamy consistency.

Red lentils are always paired with spices. I love using garam masala for another layer of earthy and interesting flavors. I made my own blend of garam masala from whole and ground spices. But I always prefer using all whole spices for their maximum flavor. I also think that there’s no single recipe for garam masala. So, looking at a recipe as a guide and adjusting the amount of spices according to your taste is way better than buying already grounded garam masala. Toasting and grinding them your self will also lift up your spirits.

Although this soup is quick to make, sweating the onions is an important step that you need to do, making sure that the onions are cooked over low heat until they are soft and tender before adding the tomatoes. The onions will impede from softening when you add the tomatoes at once. Sweating the onions also adds sweetness to the whole dish.

I try to avoid anything canned but there are exceptions like canned tomatoes. Roasted tomatoes would also be excellent for their more intense sweet flavor. If you have someone in your family who is tomato-phobic like my mother because of the sourness, then choosing canned tomatoes is as important as choosing fresh tomatoes. Watch the video below from Rouxbe Online Cooking School on How to Choose Quality Canned Tomatoes.

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

I love anything with coconut. For this soup, I’m using some local virgin coconut oil for sweating the onions and some fresh coconut cream to finish the dish. And I always serve it with extra coconut cream. The best virgin coconut oil I’ve ever purchased was produced by The Farm. The Farm is a medical and wellness resort in Batangas, Philippines which is about 2 hours away from Metro Manila. This is one of the establishments that I want to work for. And I love the taste of coconut in this recipe. The fresh coconut cream is somewhat sweet and blends beautifully with this feisty soup.

This soup can also be pureed but I prefer to serve just the way it is. Feel free to adjust the amount of lentils and it all depends if you want it really chunky. This morning, I have to add another can of tomatoes because the lentils have doubled in size. Which means, I have enough soup for 4 more people.

Soothing Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 large onion
2 small dried chiles, freshly ground (optional)
2 tsp garam masala
1 cup red lentils
2 cans (400g)whole tomatoes
3 cupschicken or vegetables stock
unrefined sea salt, to taste

1 cup fresh coconut cream, approximately (if fresh is available)
cilantro leaves

To prepare your mise en place, first remove the seeds from the whole tomatoes and processed in the blender until roughly puree. Then, quickly rinse the lentils and drain well.

To start the soup, first peel and finely dice the onion. Then heat a heavy-bottom soup pot over medium high heat. Add the oil, followed by the onions. Season the onions with sea salt and cook until the onions are soft and tender. Add the ground dried chilies and garam masala and cook for another one minute. Then add the red lentils, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, lid slightly open and simmer the soup for about 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.

When the lentils are already tender, chop some cilantro leaves and heat the coconut cream until lukewarm.

If the soup is too thick, add more stock. Season the soup with sea salt to taste.

To serve, ladle the soup onto soup bowls, then garnish with coconut cream and chopped cilantro.



  1. Wow, beautiful picture, looks delicious. I adore Rouxbe site, love the videos. By the way do you know this soup called Laksa? It's my favorite soup ever, I discovered it in Sydney Australia,I'm addicted to it but I have no clue how to make them. There's one restaurant here that make this soup and I have been going there for the past 6 years, they know my name and I don't even have to order anymore, they already bring the soup.

  2. I wish I could have lentils too. This dish looks lovely and I like the coconut touch as well. Maybe a little won't hurt me?

  3. You have made an usual tomato soup unusual.

  4. Looks delicious! I'll be trying this one soon!

  5. Wow, look at that beautiful garam masala. This looks like a delicious, earthy soup. Stunning photos, as usual.

  6. @ Anna - Thanks Anna. Yes, I'm familiar with the soup. I think you just gave me an idea. It's great that they know what you like already. :)

    @ Penny - you have can this soup. Of course, a little won't hurt. :)

    @ TasteHongKong - thank you very much. I actually though is the usual tomato and lentil soup because they're all over the web.

    @ Organic gourmet - thank you.:)

    @ Cookin' Canuck - Thanks Dara. I also love the garam masala but I kept on sneezing because they're too fragrant.

  7. Gorgeous soup! I love red lentils, and this sounds like a great way to use them.

  8. This looks delicious! I love the color of the soup and the combination of the lentils with the tomatoes is a great idea. The photo of the lentils is lovely!

  9. I was just looking in my pantry and noticed a big bag of red lentils...I am so going to make this today! Thanks Divina

  10. wow! this looks very delicious, I want to have a bowl of this for lunch. I love lentils too I find they are very comforting and filling as well

  11. This looks delicious! I have some red lentils so I may have to make this. Also, I saw your photo on tastespotting the other day for pumpkin soup. It looked fabulous!

  12. Such a lovely dish! And the colour is so gorgeous. Now I know what is red lentil! Over here, we called it red dhall. Thanks!

  13. Wow, soup IS good food! I haven't done much with red lentils -- I have a yellow lentil soup recipe I tend to hover around during winters, but this is a marvelously convincing post to get a bag of the little red gems the next time I'm at the store! And the coconut is brilliant -- I love the flavor on its own and what a great reminder to use it more things.

  14. I love the idea of using coconut in a tomato soup, how cool!!

  15. Ooh, interesting! I love the idea of lentils and tomatoes with those spices, but coconut is so new and intriguing to me! I bet this is wonderful. Your photos are amazing.

  16. Hey Divine... I m loving this one... I never use cocunut oil or the virgin ones in my cooking tho my mom does, now u giving me more ideas... hehe, there are some extra virgin coconut oil manufacturer in Brunei I might need to try coz the one my mom always use is not the virgin one... thanks... your soup just won myheart... ;)

  17. a very tasty soup,i will try it soon!

  18. That is really my kind of soup! This looks so great!

  19. I love red lentil soup! I've never thought of using coconut cream (usually I end up using nonfat half & half) but I think the coconut will add a nice sweetness and good flavor. Will definitely try next time!

  20. I love coconut, spices and beans so this soup looks very inviting to me....even more inviting now that the weather has turned very cold. I have never liked lentils. Will probably use split peas if I cook this dish. Looks delicious though.

  21. THis looks so delicious and yummy. Divina, I'm sorry to ask this question but are lentils not good to eat if you have arthritis or gout? Does it have high purine? Thank you and you don't have to answer my question if you don't want to.
    Keep cooking!
    Chris from San Francisco

  22. Wonderful! I love all these flavors but together, it sounds like they make an amazing soup. It's getting cold here now - we may be getting snow flurries this weekend so your recipe comes just in time. 8-)

  23. @ Kalyn - thank you. I love red lentils too.

    @ tokyoterrace - Many thanks Rachel.

    @ Dawn- thanks dawn. It seems that we almost think of the same ingredients.

    @ Jessie - they are very comforting.

    @ Kari - thank you. It was one of the photos accepted so far. :)

    @ MyLittleSpace - thanks Kristy. Now I know another different name for red lentils. :)

    @ WasabiPrime - thanks Denise. There's something about red lentils that other lentils doesn't have. I don't know what it is but they're just comforting. Coconut milk is good with everything, isn't it. I'm learning how to make use of what we have here at home.

    @ Tastry Trix- thanks Tracey. I like coconut milk better than using cream.

    @ ChefNash - Thank you. Coconut oil is wonderful. I won't be surprised if you create something wonderful with it.

    @ Alison - thank you Alison.

    @ JennDZ - It's my kind of soup too. :)

    @ experimentalculinarypursuits - I love the coconut milk too.

    @ MaryMoh - Please try it with lentils. you might love it.:)

    @ Chris - Hi Chris. Thank you. Oh, don't worry about the question. I do appreciate them. :) Generally, lentils are moderately high in purines but these split red lentils are lower. My three brothers do react to certain foods high in purines except with these lentils. But my older might react to it because he's more prone to uric acid but he hasn't tried this red lentils (he's in Taiwan). I'm wondering who's suffering gout in your family. It would be great for me to know. I hope I answered your question.

    @ Tangled Noodle - Thank you. The spices are great to keep you warm.

  24. A soothing warm lentil soup is definitely welcome at any season!
    Recipe bookmarked!
    Angie's Recipes

  25. The tomato soup sounds wonderful with lentils! Gorgeous!

  26. It's so chilly outside and this post helped warm me up! It looks so rich and hearty - thanks for sharing! Beautiful pics too!

  27. This is interesting, I don't think I've ever had lentils. Beautiful photos!

  28. This soup sounds so delicious. What wonderful flavour combinations. After my honeymoon, and too much eating of rich food, this looks just the ticket for a light dinner!

  29. hello divina
    i habe already ccoked these lentils and they are great !! thanks for the sharing !
    and if you want a chef dessert come and see my pistachio creme with a bonbon !
    cheers Pierre

  30. Wow1 I love that picture. Great soup recipe.

  31. Oh that soup does look so delicious and comforting!

  32. this looks absolutely wonderful, love the use of coconut creme on top

  33. What a beautiful colour your soup is and I noticed you use Rouxbe like me:) Such a great site!

  34. After reading your profile, I definitely wouldn't describe you as an "amateur" photographer...these are great! The soup is mouthwatering.

  35. Divina! Looks wonderful! I am not a big lentil person, but I recently had some red lentils in Dal at an Indian restaurant and loved it. Now I just need to find some red lentils and try your soup!

  36. you have so many great soup recipes, i love them, simple and sophisticated. adding coconut cream is a great idea. thanks ^ _ ^

  37. to my blog ,i have some awards for you!

  38. @ Angie's Recipes - Thank you Angie.

    @ 5 Star Foodie - thank you. They are comforting.

    @ high/low - thank you very much.

    @ hannah - thank you very much. Your photos are one of my inspiration.

    @ Mardi - thank you.

    @ Julia - thank you. Something light yet filling would be great.

    @ Pierre - thanks for offering your desserts. I would love to.

    @ Simply Life - thank you.

    @ Ravenous Couple - thanks a lot.

    @ John - thanks John. You noticed that too?

    @ The traditional gourmand - oh, thank you.

    @ Marilyn - Thanks Mare. I'm glad you had some red lentils. I'm sure you will love this soup.

    @ Short and Bald - Thank you. I think I have more soups for you.

    @ Alison - thank you very much Alison. I am touched.

  39. I would love a bowl of this you always make the best soups!

  40. That soup looks nice and tasty and healthy! I really like the sound f using the coconut cream.

  41. @ Chef Jeena - thank you. I think I should have my own cookbook about soups.

    @ Kevin - thanks a lot. I love using coconut cream lately.

  42. I made this soup for dinner tonight. Though I've never had red lentils, your gorgeous photographs sold me on the idea. (I happened upon your blog the other day via Food Buzz. :)

    I'll happy to say I'll be adding this recipe to my repertoire. My 4 year old and I loved it. My husband gave it a tentative thumbs up. The baby wanted nothing to do with it at dinner time but is, as I type this, sitting in my lap dipping Melba toast in a bowl of leftover soup.

    So, thank you!

  43. Divina, this soup looks sooo good. I love the color and red lentils are so versatile. Would probably taste great with a grilled cheese sandwich!

  44. Oh wow, does that look good! Thank you for posting this. I know what I'm going to be cooking this weekend. Yum.


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