Thai Red Lentil Soup ~ Warm Spices, Creamy Coconut Milk & Fresh Lime

red lentil soup 2

Coming home to a bowl of lentil soup is cozy and comforting.  Here, the humble red lentil is elevated to new heights.  My version is made with coconut milk. The coconut milk gives it an ultra creamy texture and a healthy dose of omega 3’s.   The lively flavors of ginger and chili work beautifully with the mellow red lentils, giving them a jolt of heat and spice.  Thai basil and lime are fresh finishing touches.

Being Middle Eastern, I’ve eaten my share of lentil soups. I’ve been making red lentil soup for years, pairing it with the usual flavors of cumin and lemon. But this time, I ventured out of the box, wanting something different. I was after something smooth and luxurious with a more complex flavor. This recipe was the end result of my concentrated efforts.

I brought this soup into work with me. My co-worker, who is married to a Middle Eastern man, and who has had more than her share of red lentil soup, said she loved it.  Another coworker wanted to know how I got it to taste so lively and creamy.   They both asked for the recipe.

This is no ordinary red lentil soup. For the purposes of the photo, I served it in a bowl. But I much prefer slurping it with a soup spoon out of a big mug with crusty buttered bread on the side. The soup is even better the second day. It reheats very well. It is a good dish to make ahead for company. So creamy and rich. Healthy but you’d never know it! Featured on Healthy Aperture.

I hope you like it too! xo ~ Jilly  

red lentil soup

Creamy Thai Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Serves 8

Some notes:

This is a delicately spiced, healthy lentil soup.  It’s really not spicy-hot.  Sriracha sauce can be served on the side for those who like spicy food.  Sriracha is wonderful in this soup, playing against the rich coconut milk and creamy lentils.  Alternatively, you can bump up the heat by adding more Thai chili peppers to the recipe. But be careful, they’re hot. One pepper doesn’t overpower the soup with too much heat. I love the slightly tropical flavor of Thai bird’s eye peppers, which come in red and green. I find them in my regular supermarket. Swap them for a jalapeno pepper if that’s all you can find. Some jalapenos are hotter than others,  so dare to taste a tiny piece before cooking with it. Removing the seeds and veins of a jalapeno will help control the heat. 

Please trust me and seek out Rapunzel No Salt Organic Vegetable Bouillon. 
You will thank me for this tip. Your vegetable soups will not be ruined anymore by strange unknown flavors found in canned and boxed broths and stocks. Rapunzel is my choice for all my soups when I don’t have the will or time to make my own stock or broth. It has a clean, fresh taste that is delicious on its own. I highly recommend this brand without reservation. There’s a sea salt variety too. But I use the no salt bouillon because I like to control the salt myself. If you want to add your favorite boxed or canned broth then omit the water in the recipe and use 8 cups of broth/stock.

Red Lentils are salmon colored. Once cooked, they turn a light brown. They cook up in no time, usually under 30 minutes.  Don’t worry about adding salt as they cook, it will be just fine. No pre-soaking is necessary either. I just rinse them and proceed with the recipe. 

If you don’t feel like roasting a pepper, you can omit that step. Instead of roasting it, saute a chopped pepper with the onions until soft. But I highly recommend adding the warm flavors from a roasted pepper.

I love using Vietnamese cinnamon in all my recipes. It has a bold, sweet taste that is unmatched. But use whatever cinnamon floats your boat.   

A few squeezes from a juicy lime, Thai or regular basil and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt or grey celtic sea salt finishes the soup with freshness and vitality. 


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of finely chopped carrots
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced in half and seeded. You pick the color.
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated. I use a microplane zester to grate it.
  • 1-2 red or green Thai bird’s-eye peppers or one jalapeno pepper, diced. (see notes)
  • 2 limes
  • 2 cups of dried red lentils. I like to rinse them first.
  • 8 cubes or one package of Rapunzel Pure Organic Vegetable Bouillon, No Salt Added (see notes)
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/3 of a can of coconut milk. I like Thai Kitchen brand.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, divided. I use Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon
  • Coconut oil or neutral tasting oil for cooking
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • Serve suggestions: lime wedges, lime zest, Thai basil or regular basil, flaky sea salt or celtic sea salt, sprinkle of cinnamon, sriracha sauce


Place the sliced pepper, cut side down, on an oven safe baking sheet lined with tinfoil and broil on high until the skin is charred and blackened. Remove from the oven, place the pepper in a covered bowl or wrap in tin foil to steam. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin and discard. Chop and set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute the onion, chili and carrots in some coconut oil (or neutral tasting oil) with a pinch of salt until soft. Once they’re soft, add 8 cups of water, the bouillon cubes, the roasted pepper, lentils, ginger and a half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Adjust the salt, adding the proper amount to suite your taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender. Stir in the coconut milk, a few squeezes of lime juice and as much as the reserved ground cinnamon you’d like. Serve with lime wedges, lime zest, dusting of cinnamon, sprinkle of sea salt, sriracha and torn basil. Enjoy!


6 thoughts on “Thai Red Lentil Soup ~ Warm Spices, Creamy Coconut Milk & Fresh Lime

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