This easy carrot and lentil soup with coriander manages to taste fresh and lively whilst also being deeply nourishing and gratifying.
This recipe was first published in January 2020 and updated in October 2021 with additional step-by-step images.
Despite spending my days surrounded by food, it’s disappointing how often I fail to make time to feed myself properly during the day. But recipes like this carrot and lentil soup are my lunchtime saviours. This soup is easy to prepare, very healthy and one batch can keep me going for days at a time.
I’ve enjoyed soup at lunchtime since I was a small child. But, of course, variety is the spice of life, so I’m always playing around with new flavours. This lentil and carrot soup with coriander (cilantro) is really a cross between 2 classics: carrot & coriander soup and red lentil soup.
Reasons to love this red lentil and carrot soup
- Quick and easy: this carrot and lentil soup requires only 15 minutes of hands-on time. You can walk away and let things simmer while you get on with other tasks.
- Taste: it’s packed with fresh flavour thanks to the carrots and coriander plus a touch of creaminess from the coconut milk.
- Healthy: it’s highly nutritious (I’ve written more about why this lentil and carrot soup is heathly lower down).
- It’s naturally vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free (assuming your stock is all of these things)
What are red lentils?
- Red lentils are part of the legume family since they grow on the lentil plant in pods – rather like beans and peas.
- They are often referred to as pulses and have multiple uses from soups, curries and stews through to salads and side dishes (perhaps the most famous of which is dahl).
- Despite their name, red lentils are actually yellow lentils that have been split and are typically orange in colour.
- They are small in size, cook quickly and break down considerably when cooked. This makes them fantastic ingredients in soups and stews since they add a healthy creaminess to the dish and add body to sauces and liquids.
Carrots: try to pick fresh and tasty carrots. I know that’s easier said than done without biting into them, but full-flavoured carrots will make the world of difference in you carrot and lentil soup. Tinned or frozen carrots are not suitable in this recipe.
Lentils: use only red lentils in this recipe. No other lentil breaks down quite red ones do and it’s this unique quality that is required to achieve the fantastic consistency of this soup.
Coriander: this lentil and carrot soup recipe uses both ground coriander and fresh coriander.
Coconut milk: use the canned type used in Thai cuisine rather than the refrigerated version typically used as a milk replacement. Whether to use full-fat or reduced-fat is entirely your choice, depending on how virtuous you feel like being.
- Dice the onion and celery and fry in oil for around 5 minutes until beginning to soften then chop the garlic and add to the pan, along with the ground coriander. Cook for 1 minute.
- Peel and dice the carrot. Drop into the pan, stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Pour in the lentils and stock, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Pour the coconut milk into the base of a heatproof blender jug and ladle in ¼ of the soup (see notes). Cover and blitz until smooth.
- Add ¾ of the fresh coriander and pulse 3-4 times until the herb is finely chopped.
- Pour the pureed soup back into the pan, taste & season as necessary (see notes) and reheat before serving.
- Make short work of chopping the onion and carrot by using a food processor.
- Orange carrots work best in this recipe. Avoid using purple or yellow ones.
- The thickness of this soup will depend on how much of it is pureed in the blender. For a very thick and smooth soup, the whole lot can be blended, but for a thinner soup, as pictured, aim for ¼ – ⅓ of it being blended.
- The exact amount of salt required will depend on the saltiness of your stock. I used ½ teaspoon salt, but this will need adjusting up or down in accordance with your stock – taste, taste and taste some more.
- You can use frozen coriander if you don’t have fresh to hand. Try adding 1-2 tablespoons to the pan.
Frequently asked questions
Although it’s wise to rinse red lentils through several changes of cold water to remove any grit, it is not necessary to soak them before cooking.
No, there is no need to cook the red lentils before adding them to the soup. They can go directly in the pot and be left to simmer for 20 minutes. By this time they will have broken down and begun to blend into the liquid. Once some (or all) of the soup is blended, you’ll have plenty of body to the soup thanks to the lentils.
Yes, you can. Simply put all ingredients except the coconut milk and fresh coriander into your slow cooker and let cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Proceed to process some of the soup in a blender, along with the fresh coriander and coconut milk, then stir back into the rest of the soup.
Once the soup is cold it can be covered and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. Give it a good stir before decanting into a pan/ jug to reheat to redistribute everything.
This vegan carrot and lentil soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Here are my tips for successful freezing soup:
1. Allow to cool to room temperature before decanting into freezer-proof containers
2. Don’t fill the container to the brim. Instead, leave at least a 1.5 cm space below the lid before sealing since the soup will expand as it freezes
3. Freeze soup in individual portion sizes. These can be pulled out as and when required for the right number of diners. It’s surprising how often single servings can come in handy in a busy household
4. Always label the container clearly – with the soup type and the use by date to ensure it doesn’t languish in the deep freeze indefinitely (says the voice of sorry experience)
5. Let defrost fully at room temperature or in the fridge before heating to piping hot before serving
Reasons why this lentil and carrot soup is healthy
As well as being very tasty and rather satisfying, this carrot and lentil soup boasts a number of health benefits:
- Carrots are nutrient-rich, possessing a wealth of vitamins and minerals. In particular, they are rich in beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. In turn, vitamin A helps promote good vision and is important for growth, development, and immune system health
- Coriander imparts dietary fibre, manganese, iron, magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. Phew – quite a mix. And there are equally wide-ranging benefits from incorporating this herb into your diet including: lowering bad cholesterol; aiding liver functions and bowel movements; alleviating mouth ulcers and helping to remedy anaemia
- Red lentils are a fantastic source of healthy, plant-based protein – pertinent for digestive health and healthy weight maintenance. But they are also an excellent source of fibre, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Lentils are all-round good guys
To keep this carrot and red lentil soup as healthy as possible, I suggest using reduced-fat coconut milk and using homemade or low-sodium stock. These choices help to keep in check unhealthy fats and sodium levels.
- Chunky or smooth: serve your carrot and lentil soup nice and chunky by blending only part of it. Alternatively, blend the entire batch to make soup with a smooth and thick consistency. It’s your choice.
- Get spicy: ramp up the spice level by adding 1 teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder.
- Healthy toppings: fresh coriander, black pepper and pumpkin seeds.
- Comforting toppings: a swirl of coconut milk and croutons.
More lentil recipes
Have you made this red lentil and carrot soup recipe? How did you get along? Feel free to leave a rating and/or comment below to let me know.
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Carrot and Lentil Soup with Coriander
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 Onion white & mild
- 1 Celery stick
- 1 Garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon Ground coriander
- 450 g Carrot
- 150 g Red lentils
- 1250 ml Vegetable stock homemade or low sodium (ensure vegan and/ or gluten-free if diet requires)
- 200 ml Reduced-fat coconut milk Canned
- 20 g Fresh coriander leaves removed from the stalks
- ¼ teaspoon Ground black pepper
- Salt – to taste
- Peel the onion then dice both the onion and celery stick finely. Fry in the oil over a moderate heat for around 5 minutes until beginning to soften
- Peel and finely chop the garlic and add to the pan, along with the ground coriander
- Next peel and dice the carrot. Aim for ½ cm cubes. Drop into the pan, stir everything together and cook for 3 minutes
- Pour in the lentils and stock, bring to a gentle simmer and cook, covered for 20 minutes, by which times the lentils should begin to break down and the carrot should be tender
- Pour the coconut milk into the base of a heatproof blender jug and ladle in around ¼ of the soup (see notes). Cover and blitz until smooth. Add ¾ of the fresh coriander and pulse 3-4 times until the herb is finely chopped
- Pour the pureed soup back into the pan, taste & season as necessary (see notes) and reheat before serving, garnished with the fresh coriander leaves and perhaps a swirl of coconut milk and some pumpkin seeds if desired
- Make short work of the onion and carrot chopping by using a food processor
- Ramp up the spice level by adding 1 teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder
- Orange carrots work best in this recipe. Avoid using purple or yellow ones
- The thickness of this soup will depend how much of it is pureed in the blender. For a very thick and smooth soup, the whole lot can be blended, but for a thinner soup, as pictured, aim for ¼ – ⅓ of it being blended
- If you are not sure how thick to make it, try blending a bit at a time until you achieve a consistency you are happy with
- The exact amount of salt required will depend on the saltiness of your stock. I used ½ teaspoon salt, but this will need adjusting up or down in accordance with your stock – taste, taste and taste some more
- You can use frozen coriander if you don’t have fresh to hand. Try adding 1-2 tablespoons
- This soup can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or frozen (see notes below)
- Allow to cool to room temperature before decanting into freezer-proof containers
- Don’t fill the container to the brim. Instead, leave at least a 1.5 cm space below the lid before sealing since the soup will expand as it freezes
- Freeze soup in individual portion sizes. These can be pulled out as and when required for the right number of diners. It’s surprising how often single servings can come in handy in a busy household
- Always label the container clearly – with the soup type and the use by date to ensure it doesn’t languish in the deep freeze indefinitely (says the voice of sorry experience)
- Let defrost fully at room temperature or in the fridge before heating to piping hot before serving