Thai Red Lentil Soup

This is one of my all-time favourite soups – it’s easy to make, hearty and delicious.

The recipe belongs to Ottolenghi, and was one of his recipes featured in the New Vegetarian range – which I tore out of the magazine and have kept lovingly in a binder where it gets a little more creased and stained every time I make this! I’ve pretty much copied out his recipe here word for word, so credit where credit is due, but I’ve added a few of my own notes here or there.


(yes, I stole this picture from the Ottolenghi article, no, my bowls are not this fancy).

You’ll need:

120g sugar snap peas
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp vegetarian red curry paste
2 lemongrass stalks, bashed and bruised with a rolling pin
4 kaffir lime leaves
250g red lentils
950ml water
250ml coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp deep-fried shallots (optional)
1 bunch coriander, washed, picked and roughly chopped

Note – I often use 400ml of coconut milk (which is a whole can) and use slightly less water – mainly because once I’ve opened a can of coconut milk I never use up the leftovers so figure I may as well use it all at once!

Also if you don’thave any kaffir lime leaves (which I often don’t), then you can just add a little extra lime juice instead.

Step 1: Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, chuck in the sugar snaps and cook for 90 seconds. Drain, refresh under cold water, then set aside to drip-dry. Before serving, cut them on an angle into long, thin slices.

Step 2: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot and add the sliced onion. Cook, covered, over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the onion is completely soft and sweet.

Step 3: Stir thered curry paste into the onion, cook for a minute, add the lemongrass, lime leaves, red lentils and water, and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until the lentils are lovely and soft.

Step 4: Remove and discard the lemongrass stalks and lime leaves, then blend the soup until it is smooth. Add the coconut milk, lime juice and soy sauce, and stir. Put the soup back on the heat. When it is almost boiling, add the sugar snaps, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Note – sometimes I blend it smooth, and sometimes I leave it as it is – depends if you like your soup smooth or with texture. I recommend trying it both ways, as it’s so delicious you’ll be making it a lot!

Step 5: Ladle the hot soup into bowls, scatter some fried shallots on top, if using, and garnish with plenty of fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime, if you fancy.


This soup is AMAZING – one of my all-time favourite things, and it freezes well, so you can make batches of it for later too if you want. Guaranteed to impress your friends, or warm you up on a cold winter evening.


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