Servings: 4

Prep time: 15 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Sri Lankan lentil soup

The key to this fragrant soup is the delicious spices: building on this base, you can adapt it in all kinds of ways.


main meal, soup

vegan, vegetarian, oil free, refined sugar free, gluten free, nut free, soy free, one pot, super easy, entertaining




  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices in a large saucepan over medium heat for around 3 minutes, using splashes of water to avoid sticking.

  2. Add the carrot and potatoes.

  3. Wash the lentils until the water runs clear. Add them to the pan along with the vegetable stock.

  4. Add the curry leaves and lemongrass, and simmer gently with the lid on for 20-30 mins until the lentils are soft.

  5. Put the kale in about five minutes before the end.

  6. Remove the lemongrass and curry leaves, and blend with a hand-held stick blender until you reach the desired consistency.

  7. Serve as is or with crusty wholemeal bread.

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 chopped fresh red chilli (optional)

  • 2-3 cm thumb of fresh ginger, finely chopped

  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric

  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin

  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander

  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

  • 1 medium carrot, chopped into bite-sized pieces

  • 4 medium potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 cup red lentils

  • 2 litres of homemade vegetable stock

  • 3 curry leaves

  • 2 sticks lemongrass, halved lengthwise (optional)

  • 2-3 large handfuls of kale, de-stemmed and chopped roughly (optional)

To serve (optional):

  • 4-8 slices toasted wholemeal bread


You can vary this soup in all kinds of ways, e.g. swap potatoes for pumpkin, kale for spinach, adapt to your preferred thickness, reduce or increase the heat by adjusting the chilli, use extra carrots, try adding handfuls of shredded cabbage, chopped cauliflower, etc. You can also make it with yellow split peas in place of red lentils, or a mixture (cook time will vary).

Frozen kale or spinach are a great alternative if you don’t have fresh on hand.

Chef's tips

If you have a slow cooker, this is a great dish to throw together early in the day and cook on ‘low’ for 6-8 hours. If using this method, you just put all the ingredients in the slow cooker together, and set the timer. Then come back to it when ready, blend as desired, and voila!


Dr Chau Tran

Dr Chau Tran

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