Recipes > Tomato & Lentil Soup

Tomato & Lentil Soup


Flavored with fresh curry leaves, this vibrant and delicious tomato lentil soup is finished with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Serves: 6 to 8
  • Active Time: 55 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Views: 59,104
  • Success Rating: 97% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Making the Soup

Making the Soup
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 small, green chilies
  • 12 fresh curry leaves (or to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 - 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil*
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • fresh cilantro (to taste)
  • 1 lemon
  • chili flakes (optional)


To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the onion. Mince the garlic and chilies. Remove the curry leaves from the stem and set aside.

Set up a strainer over a bowl. Break open each whole tomato and remove the seeds, allowing the juice to collect in the bowl below. Place the de-seeded tomatoes into a separate bowl and roughly chop with kitchen scissors. Measure out the 2 cups of the strained tomato juice. Set aside.

Gather the stock, red lentils, cumin and oil and set aside.

To make the soup, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat and add the oil, followed by the onions, garlic and chilies.
*Note: If desired, omit the oil and dry-sauté the onions, garlic and chilies with a bit of vegetable stock or water.

Sweat until the onions are translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cumin and curry leaves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute or so.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, stock, salt and season with pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer.

Once simmering, add the lentils and continue to simmer for approximately about 20 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked through. Ultimately, the time it takes will depend on the lentils age etc. Also, how thick the soup is and how high the heat is will alter the cooking time.

Once the lentils are cooked through, season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.

For a thicker texture, you may want to partially blend the soup with an immersion blender.

Serve the soup in warmed bowls and garnish with chopped cilantro, freshly squeezed lemon and chili flakes.


  • Jennifer B
    Jennifer B
    I live in Az and I can't find curry leaves. What do you suggest I use as a substitute?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    There is no true substitution for curry leaves. I would suggest that you either leave them out or try to find dried leaves. You could add a bay leaf instead but again, this will not give the soup the same flavour profile as the curry leaves. p.s. you may want to bookmark that link, which is a link to Cook's Thesaurus, as it's a good source for substitutions. Cheers!
  • Glenn M
    Glenn M
    Made this soup for tea tonight but without the curry leaves which where not available at our local store. Found this soup to be tasty and very filling. Hopefully it frezzes well as we have plenty left over. Next time I will use dry curry leaves which I know I can get from our local Asian food shop. The question is how many dry leaves to use?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Glad you liked the soup. I think it would freeze fairly well. In this case, I would use the same amount of whole dried curry leaves as fresh. Cheers!
  • Bea B
    Bea B
    I used an extra small green chile so the soup was extra spicy. Therefore I garnished it with a dollop of Greek yogurt. It was very good. BeaB
  • Glenn M
    Glenn M
    Made this soup again but this time with dried curry leaves and I really love it. How much better can this soup next time get with fresh leaves? Excellent recipe - it's even low calorie!!
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    I am sure the flavor will be very similar whether you use dried or fresh. Glad you liked the soup! Cheers!
  • Johnny H
    Johnny H
    I used curry suace mix tablets instead of the leaves and got a great flavor. I am sure the leaves would have helped. I noticed the lentils took about 40 minutes to cook. not 20. Really good. I added cerrano peppers and loved the spice! Thanks again Rouxbe for another great recipe! Johnny
  • Kathleen S
    Kathleen S
    I have make this soup 3-4 times. I love it. It is important to use the curry leaves if you can find them. This is what helps to make the soup extra delicious. If you can't find them it is still good.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Curry powder and curry leaves have completely different flavor profiles and uses - I agree that the leaves make a big difference. Buy them and freeze them! They are good to have on hand for Indian cooking,
  • Danielle B
    Danielle B
    I don't know what this soup will taste like with curry leaves, and I'll try it as soon as I can get them, but I substituted a few basil leaves and approx. 1/4 tsp of lime rind for an amazing soup, probably the best lentil soup I've ever had. Thank you, Rouxbe, for another fabulous recipe! p.s.: I pureed about three cups of the soup and made sure I caught all the basil leaves.
  • Sharon B
    Sharon B
    What kind of "small green chili" is the recipe calling for? Anaheim, Jalapeno, Serrano? Wondering how "hot" this is meant to be.
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    The heat level is really up to you! Consider an anaheim for flavor, but little heat...or jalapeno, serrano, or Thai chiles for both flavor and more heat.
  • Moselle B
    Moselle B
    Nice soup! The flavor profile is very similar to a curry served at Singaporean hawker centers. That curry is meat-based so I've stopped eating it. This is a nice replacement. Also, I could easily find all of these ingredients here in Singapore.
  • Magda
    Nice soup. i made it several times and I love it. Great work Rouxbe!
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    This soup is now at the top of my Rouxbe recipe favorites list! I absolutely adore lentils and tomatoes so I knew I was going to love it, but it turned out even better than I thought! My regular grocery store did not have the curry leaves, so I omitted them. I used Serrano chilis and homemade vegetable stock. My lentils took longer than 40 minutes to cook through (closer to 60 minutes) and I needed to add the remaining tomato juice (in total I added 4 cups) to ensure there was plenty of liquid for the lentils to continue cooking. Like almost all other roux/starch based soups, this one thickens up as it starts to cool, so I recommend keeping extra stock/tomato juice closeby to loosen up a bit if needed (for anyone having seconds). I garnished with fresh parsley (I was out of cilantro) and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Even in the heat of summer, I found this soup to be refreshing, not too heavy and absolutely delicious! Thank you Rouxbe!
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hello, Sunnie; If you are a soup lover, this recipe is indeed a winner. Thanks for your notes about the the thickness of the soup and making it work for you. This soup would be another application for your croutons! Parsley is always a good understudy for cilantro. Very nicely done. -Char
  • Meghna A
    Meghna A
    This looks like an Indian recipe - all the spices are familiar to me. I haven't tried it out yet. We typically cook lentils in a pressure cooker. Will surely try this.
  • Dal B
    Dal B
    Wouldn't the acid from the tomatoes stop the lentils softening properly?I was thinking of doing a two pot method and combining the two after the twenty minute mark?
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi Dal, Good question! That is the case with most legumes and should be taken into consideration there. However, in the case of red lentils (and most other lentils), their skin is much thinner and they are much quicker cooking than dry beans are, so the acidity doesn’t have much to affect or much time to do so. Here, since it is a relatively short cooking time (again, compared to dried beans), the tomatoes and other ingredients are in early to help in overall flavor development of the dish. I hope this helps you out. Cheers, Sandy
  • Riaz M
    Riaz M
    would 150 g dried apricots to this dish provide a sweet contrast without making it too sweet?
  • Eric W Rouxbe Staff
    Eric W
    Hi Riaz, you'll need to give it a try! It will be up to your personal preference. ~Eric

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