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Indian Spiced Lentil Soup (Dal Soup)

Indian Spiced Lentil Soup, called Dal Soup or Dahl Soup, is a simple and deeply satisfying vegetarian soup. With heady Indian spices, this hearty vegetarian dal soup recipe is loaded with flavor. It’s easy to make and can be paired with rice or bread for a complete meal! 

overhead shot of 2 bowls of dal soup garnished with coconut milk and sliced green chiles

What is dal?

Dal (also called dhal or dahl) is a word used both for any type of split legume (lentils, split peas, etc.) as well as the spiced Indian lentil soup that is often made with them.

There are a number of different types of lentils (or dal) used in Indian cooking including toor dal (pigeon peas), moong dal (mung beans), masoor dal (red lentils or brown lentils), and chana dal (yellow split peas).

Simmered in broth and infused with spices, they make a soul warming soup. Served with rice or naan bread, it is a complete protein, making it a simple and healthy meal. The soup is sometimes served, along with bread or rice, as a meal and sometimes served as part of a meal along with curries, chutneys, and other dishes.

A bowl of yellow lentil soup with a spoon.

Traditional recipes for dahl soup vary from region to region, and indeed from household to household, but they are generally made with seasonings like turmeric and ginger that are good for the digestion, along with spices like mustard seeds, black pepper, and garam masala.

Garam masala is, like curry powder, a mix of spices including cardamom, mustard seeds, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander seeds, cloves, mace, and nutmeg. You can buy it in most supermarkets or online.

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make dal soup or Indian spiced lentil soup

What ingredients do you need to make this Indian lentil soup recipe?

Some Indian dishes have long lists of spices and ingredients, but not this one. It’s a simple soup, but it is loaded with flavor.

  • Coconut oil (or use ghee)
  • Ground turmeric
  • Yellow mustard seeds
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Yellow lentils or yellow split peas
  • Jalapeno or serrano pepper
  • Vegetable broth
  • Garam masala
  • Parsley or fresh cilantro
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Coconut milk

How do you make it?

This one-pot spiced Indian lentil soup is easy to make. Here’s how:

  1. Toast the spices in a bit of coconut oil in a skillet. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent.
  2. Next, stir in the lentils and broth and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are very tender and mostly broken down.
  3. Just before serving, stir in some coconut milk.
  4. Serve hot, garnished with garam masala, red pepper flakes, and fresh parsley.

Tips for success

If desired, add a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice, too, to brighten the flavor.

You can soak the lentils overnight, which will help them release their nutrients, making the nutrients more easily absorbed. This will also lessen the time the lentils need to cook in order to break down.

The lentils should completely break down during cooking, making a thick soup. If you like, you can further puree the soup with an immersion blender.

Add more green chilli and/or some cayenne or other ground chili powder if you like a spicier dal.

Leave out the chiles and red pepper flakes if you prefer a milder dish.

What do you serve with this soup?

This soup is filling enough to be served as the main dish in a meal. Just add basmati rice or puffy Garlic Naan, a vegetable side, and some cucumber raita.

You can also serve small portions as part of a multi-dish Indian meal. I often serve it along with Instant Pot Chicken Biryani, Tandoori Chicken or Palak Paneer (or Instant Pot Palak Paneer). Or try this delicious Kitchari recipe.

low angle shot of two bowls of dal soup
overhead shot of a bowl of dal garnished with coconut milk and sliced green chiles

Dal Soup

Robin Donovan
Dal soup is a simple and deeply satisfying Indian lentil soup. With heady Indian spices, this hearty vegetarian dal soup recipe is delicious and satisfying. It’s also easy to make and can be paired with rice or bread for a complete meal! 


4.97 from 26 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine Indian
Calories 236 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the soup

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or use ghee
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups yellow lentils
  • 1 green chili like jalapeno or serrano, sliced (seeded for a milder soup)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth

For serving

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Instructions
 

  • Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed, large soup pot set over medium heat. Add the turmeric, salt, pepper, and mustard seeds and cook, stirring, for 1 or 2 minutes, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
  • Add the onion, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are very tender and mostly broken down. Add 1 to 2 cups of water if needed to keep the soup liquid and keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Just before serving, stir in the coconut milk.
  • Serve hot, garnished with garam masala, red pepper flakes, and fresh parsley.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Calories: 236kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 11gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1081mgFiber: 9gSugar: 5g
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By on October 19th, 2021
Photo of Robin Donovan

About Robin Donovan

Robin Donovan is the creative force behind All Ways Delicious. She's a writer, recipe developer, photographer, and cookbook author with more than 40 books to her name, including the bestselling Ramen for Beginners, Ramen Obsession, and Campfire Cuisine. Her work has been featured in major publications, both print and digital, including MSN, Cooking Light, Fitness, Buzzfeed, and Eating Well. More about Robin

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