Red Lentil Soup with Carrot & Ginger

An elegant first course in a cup or a hearty satisfying main course in a bowl, you can go either way with this Carrot & Ginger Spiced Red Lentil Soup.

Three white wedgewood cups of Red Lentil Soup with Carrot and Ginger garnished with spice potatoes and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.

Red lentils, carrots and ginger are the main players and with a few spices, this red lentil soup is surprisingly flavorful and this soup is ready to serve in less than 45 minutes.

Red Lentils

Red lentils are lentils that have had the outer hull removed and they are split which is why they cook up really fast, usually in 20 minutes. They should be rinsed prior to adding them to the pot. During cooking, red lentils will fade in colour to yellow, but the carrots and red pepper will bring some of that hue back to the soup. Red lentils are almost always available in the bulk section of a well-stocked grocery store and also found already packaged in the rice and beans section of most grocery stores.

Carrots for the Red Lentil Soup

To keep some of that beautiful orange hue in the finished soup, try to find the deepest orange carrots to get more color.  The carrots are beautiful at the Farmers market these days. Orange carrots are the best for this soup for both taste and colour. Purple carrots are not a good choice as they will make the soup grey in colour and they are not as sweet so they don’t balance the flavour the way orange carrots do.

Don’t skip the Red Pepper (paste, jarred or fresh)

Mild or sweet red pepper paste will also bring back some of the bright hue, and deepens the flavor. I have made with and without red pepper paste, but far prefer with the red pepper paste. Red pepper paste can be found at Mediterranean markets, Spanish markets and specialty grocery stores. The terms mild and sweet on the labels are the same in that the peppers don’t have any piquante or heat (some labels call it mild, some call it sweet). I find it the best as the “hot” is overpowering for this recipe. If you can’t find the red pepper paste, jarred whole red peppers are a good replacement. Be sure to read and compare labels for the sodium content to find the most appropriate for you (sodium levels range from about 40mg to 400mg per tablespoon). When red bell peppers are in season, a blended red bell pepper adds a wonderful taste and colour too.

Ginger for the Red Lentil Soup

I have used both older ginger (the ginger typically found in the grocery store) and young ginger found at the Farmers market for this soup and they both flavor up the soup nicely. Old ginger is identified by the outer skin which is about the color of a russet potato and very opaque. It gets more opaque and tougher as it ages. The skin on young  or freshly harvested ginger is more translucent and sometimes has magenta and green hues in parts. Young ginger has more moisture, a brighter flavor and is less fibrous. When using older ginger, be sure to remove any long fibers before adding to the soup. If the ginger seems really tough instead of grating the ginger, you can cut crosswise into 1/8in coins, then blend in a hand bender or smash with a pounder.

Cook the Potatoes Separately

The potatoes are cooked separately so they don’t get too soft and it gives an opportunity to add more flavor. Yukon gold potatoes, purple potatoes or purple yams (if you can find them) are a great choice for this Red Lentil & Carrot Soup. Potatoes add an extra texture that plays nicely with the dahl-like soup. The spice quantities used on the potatoes are estimated. Because sprinkling gives a better distribution then pouring theme on the potatoes. I add the potatoes to the individual cups or bowls, but you can certainly add to the whole pot once they are cooked through. I keep the potatoes separate when I know there is going to be some leftover so the potatoes don’t become too soft for the next day.

Brighten up the Red Lentil Soup

The splash of apple cider vinegar and the extra grated ginger really wakes up the flavors and adds a brightness. For color and an extra hit of piquant, a little sprinkle of the Aleppo pepper is a nice touch on the individual cups or bowls.

Red Lentil Soup with Carrot & Ginger Pinterest Image PIN Beautiful Winter Dish, Naturally Oil-free, Gluten-Free and Vegan

Tools Used in this Recipe

  • salad spinner
  • scrub gloves or vegetable brush
  • prep bowls
  • chef knife
  • cutting board
  • white plate
  • Dutch oven
  • grater
  • wooden spatula
  • strainer
  • measuring cup
  • hand blender
  • ladle
Print Recipe
Carrot & Ginger Spiced Red Lentil Soup Recipe
An elegant first course in a cup or a hearty satisfying main course in a bowl, you can go either way with this Carrot & Ginger Spiced Red Lentil Soup.
Three white wedgewood cups of Red Lentil Soup with Carrot and Ginger garnished with spice potatoes and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.
Prep Time 15
Cook Time 30
Servings
Ingredients
The Potatoes
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 paprika and 1/8 cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 salt
  • 3 cups water
Red Lentil Soup
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1/4 cup grated ginger plus 1 Tbls divided
  • 2 Tbls grated garlic about 4 cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrot (2–4 carrots depending on the size)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbls sweet red pepper paste or 1 red pepper from a jar, blended to a puree
  • 4 tsps sweet white miso or chickpea miso optional
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or water preferably hot
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar optional, just before serving, about 1 Tbls
Prep Time 15
Cook Time 30
Servings
Ingredients
The Potatoes
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1/4 paprika and 1/8 cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 salt
  • 3 cups water
Red Lentil Soup
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 cup finely diced onions
  • 1/4 cup grated ginger plus 1 Tbls divided
  • 2 Tbls grated garlic about 4 cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrot (2–4 carrots depending on the size)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper or 1 tsp paprika and 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbls sweet red pepper paste or 1 red pepper from a jar, blended to a puree
  • 4 tsps sweet white miso or chickpea miso optional
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or water preferably hot
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar optional, just before serving, about 1 Tbls
Three white wedgewood cups of Red Lentil Soup with Carrot and Ginger garnished with spice potatoes and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.
Instructions
  1. Wash and peel the potatoes, Cut into bite size cubes. Usually this is cutting the potato into 8–10 pieces. Rinse and drain the cubes, then place the potatoes in a 2–4 qt. pot. Sprinkle a light coat of all of the spices listed for the potatoes, mix well and set aside.
  2. On a large white plate, pour a 1/2 cup at a time of the red lentils and check for non-lentil particles. Move to the side of the plate and add 1/2 cup more, repeat until the 2 cups have been checked. Place in a strainer, and set aside. It is better to rinse and drain right before adding to the pan because the lentils will clump together.
  3. Heat the pan to medium-high. Test the pot heat by putting a few onion pieces. The pot is ready if you hear a sizzle, the color changes quickly and the onions will jump about the pan. Put the onions in the pan and let cook a few minutes until they start to become translucent (3–5 minutes).
  4. Clear an area in the center of the pot and add the grated ginger. With the edge of the wooden spatula push the ginger down to form a layer. When it starts to stick and becomes fragrant (about 1–2 minutes) stir in with the onion.
  5. Clear an area again in the center of the pot and add the grated garlic. With the edge of the wooden spatula push the garlic down to form a layer. When it starts to stick and becomes fragrant (about 1–2 minutes) stir in with the onion and ginger.
  6. And one more time, clear an area in the pan and add the dried spices next. Allow to toast and become fragrant (about 1 minute). then stir in with the onion ginger garlic mixture.
  7. If the pan looks dry, add a 2–3 tablespoons of water and stir to lift up some of the mixture that is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Stir in the grated carrot.
  9. Add the sweet red pepper paste and mix in with the rest of the ingredients in the pot.
  10. Stir in the miso if using.
  11. Rinse and drain the lentils, then add to the pot and stir well to coat with the whole mixture.
  12. Pour in 2 cups of the vegetable stock or water mix well. Let cook a few minutes.
  13. In the meantime, add the 3 cups of water to the spiced potatoes, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer stirring occasionally until the potatoes are done (a toothpick goes easily through or taste one). They are usually ready about 15 minutes after lowering the heat and around the same time as the soup. If ready before, turn off the heat and remove from burner until the soup is ready.
  14. Continuing with the soup, pour in the rest of the water 1 cup at a time and stir after each addition. Place the lid on, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat medium low and let simmer for 20–30 minutes.
  15. Check the lentils after 20 minutes. The lentils should be soft when done. This is also a good time to taste to see what if anything needs to be added.
  16. Once the lentils are soft enough, you can blend a portion of the soup. If using an immersion blender, place the immersion in the soup and make sure the blade part is totally immersed in the soup liquid and blend in the same spot for a few seconds at a time. Continue until the soup becomes the consistency you like.
  17. If using a blender, ladle out 2 cups and put in the blender, allow to cool a few minutes before putting the lid on and blending. Put the lid on, while holding the lid down with a towel, blend until smooth then pour back in the soup pot.
  18. Just before you serve add the splash of apple cider vinegar and the extra tablespoon of grated ginger to the whole pot and taste again or add a few drops to each individual serving. Add more vinegar and/or ginger if desired.
  19. To serve, ladle into cups or bowls and add as many potato cubes as you like to each serving. For an added hit of piquant, sprinkle with a little Aleppo or cayenne.
Recipe Notes

SOS Free Version: Leave out the miso. The apple cider vinegar at the end wakes it up. Enjoy!