Red Lentil (Curried Dahl) Soup

Serves 4 in ~1 hour

This healing Indian red lentil soup or “dahl” (sounds like “doll”) is easy to prepare and packed with flavor and fiber. Because it uses the tiny salmon-colored lentils, it cooks in less than one hour. The anti-inflammatory spices are sautéed in ghee (or clarified butter), the nutty oil that remains after skimming the milk solids off of butter. Until you’re familiar with these spices, you can inexpensively purchase small quantities in the bulk section of most natural food stores. Enjoy the process of making something new and delicious! It is wonderful served with roasted asparagus and beets.

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 5 cups pure water
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 cup onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons organic ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil if ghee is not available
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice

Spice mix:

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (ground)
  • 1 teaspoons fennel seeds (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric (plus ½ teaspoon fresh grated turmeric root, if available)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

Gather and prep the ingredients. Sort through and wash the lentils to remove any debris. Place them in a four-quart soup pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms. Add the carrots and celery and simmer for another 10 minutes.

While the lentils are bubbling, prep the spice mix: grind the cumin and fennel seeds in your coffee grinder, and mix them with the cayenne and turmeric. 

Now heat the ghee in a small sauté pan until hot. Quickly stir in the black mustard seeds and allow them to sizzle just 15 seconds before adding the garlic, ginger and onion. Reduce the heat to medium and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Now stir in the ground spice mix and let cook another minute or two.  

Once the lentils have cooked about 30 minutes, stir in the sautéed spice mix, salt and parsley. Simmer an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors marry. 

To serve, ladle the dahl into a flat soup bowl and place a half-cup size dollop of rice in the center. Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.