Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Red Lentil and Sriracha Soup

Every fall I start to crave this soup again. It’s one of my go-to cold weather comfort dishes, which I think has something to do with the fall colors — the pale orange lentils, the red and ochre and green gold of the spices, the red-hot Sriracha and cool sweet tomato. The heady smell of curry rushes through the house, infiltrating every corner of every room. You can’t escape it. But why would you want to?

Although this soup tastes complex, it’s almost unfairly easy to make. What, you don’t have cumin, curry, paprika, or turmeric in your home? Just add another swirl of Sriracha, no one ever needs to know. (Though seriously, these spices are good investments. Toss some in a skillet with olive oil, cauliflower, and peas, maybe a potato or two — ahhhh, so good. Also, if you’re out of red lentils but happen to have yellow split peas instead, this works great with those, too.)

As they cook, the lentils become a lovely golden-orange. It’s definitely flavorful and spice-y, but not exactly HOT  — until you add the fiery Sriracha glow. I like to serve this with warm bread and cheese, which tamps down the heat until the next bite. 


3-4 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions or one large onion, chopped
5-10 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference – I like a lot!), minced
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot curry powder
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 ½ tsp salt / ½ tsp pepper)
2 cups tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
2 ¼ cups red lentils, sorted and thoroughly picked over, washed and rinsed
2 quarts water or vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
Sriracha hot sauce!


As garnish, a few dollops of yogurt, and/or a few tablespoons of cilantro or chopped flat leaf parsley. And, of course, a[nother] generous swirl of Sriracha.


1. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until browned.

2. Add garlic and the cumin, curry, sweet paprika, and turmeric, and cook for one minute (be careful not to burn the spices). Aaaaand now your home smells phenomenal. Add the tomato sauce, simmer 10 minutes.

3. While it simmers, sort the lentils, then add them, and then pour in the water or vegetable stock. Stir, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for one hour until the lentils are tender enough to smoosh on the back of your spoon. The soup should look thick and hearty, with a warm yellowy color.

5. I like to puree this with an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, it’s good as is, too — chunky, thick, and hearty. Stir it up, then ladle into bowls, swirl a little (/a lot) of Sriracha on top. Perfect.


Previously: Apple Cake With Oat, Olive Oil, and Dark Chocolate.

Natalie Eve Garrett is not ashamed of her Sriracha addiction.

57 Comments / Post A Comment


this looks DELICIOUS and the colors are almost as pretty as your paintings.

Neve Garrett

@wearitcounts Thank you!!!


This looks / sounds incredible but man, washing lentils? There's got to be a better way

Judith Slutler

@Danzig! Dude, just get a big sieve, throw them in there and swoosh them around under running water. imho that covers the "washing" part of cooking lentils


@Emmanuelle Cunt I don't have a sieve! :(

Judith Slutler

@Danzig! Get one! I use mine for so many things, like straining the seeds out of lemon juice, washing lentils, and sifting powdered sugar for cakes. Sieves = inexpensive and essential kitchen stuff.


@Danzig! As a non-lentil eater, I am confused about why one would sort them?


@Danzig! I eat lentils on a regular basis. unless I buy them open in a market I do not wash them. Sometimes, there are small stones but laziness wins out over the sieve.


@MoxyCrimeFighter so you can eat the intellectual lentils first


@MoxyCrimeFighter So you know which house each lentil belongs to. And also because lentils and beans and such will often have teeny rocks and twigs and such going on. Twigs is a little strong, like...the ring toe of a twig.


@Danzig! @Probs Ah ha. I object to to having to do that sort of work - that is why I buy my food and don't pick it myself. Sort lentils? Ha! Massage kale? Utter nonsense.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Totes. I have 3 sieves and a colander, and I wouldn't want to be without any of them.

Anne Helen Petersen




Judith Slutler

Question: if I buy sriracha and sambal oelek on the same shopping trip, does that indicate some kind of a Spicy Food Problem? Also is it bad if I basically go through 250g of sambal oelek a week.


@Emmanuelle Cunt: If so, I have the same Problem. Weekly.


@Emmanuelle Cunt
Can we talk about having a spicy food problem? If I think there's a chance I'll be able to eat ma po tofu from this new Chinese place, I will be distracted by it alllll day. I'll start having thoughts of a kind that haven't been familiar since the time I started crushing on my now wife. Sort of like inchoate desires to get up from whatever I am doing and go to it. Like strategizing constantly about how I can rearrange my day to procure it. Craaazy.


@laurel @EC - Love you both. I just housed an entire bottle of sriracha (the std, not the massive) in a month. Living alone.

And I also buy a bottle of cholula every week, and have a huge assortment of other hotsauces, including a few homemade. It's basically the only condiment in my house.

Judith Slutler

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I totally get this way about foods, like these amazing fries at a vegan restaurant in my neighborhood, except I fantasize so fully about eating them that by the time I get home I'm like "eh, I can always leave that for another day". It's kind of weird frankly!


My people!
Has anyone tried Secret Aardvark hot sauce? It's tied for Favorite New (to me) Hot Sauce and works amazingly well with cheese-based foods. Other Favorite New (to me) Hot Sauce is Yucateca Green (either the Jalapeno or Habanero, depending on how much I burn I want), which goes with everything I haven't already added SA to. The Yucateca XXX is also delicious, but is STUPID hot. I have a high spice tolerance but I can only eat it diluted. (A few drops in ranch dressing makes a killer dip for the crusts of your average "It's Late and I'm Drunk" pizza.)
EEE! Hot Sauce! Now I want to go and eat something spicy.

fruiting body

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll I refuse to believe that a love of spicy food can ever be a problem!

Signed, the girl who carries habanero sauce in her purse and is experimenting with homemade sriracha right now...


@fruiting body
And don't get me started on habanero bloody marias!!

Clarisse McClellan

@Rock and Roll Ken Doll That is pretty much exactly how I feel about sichuanese food. Now I'm going to think about Lao Sze Chuan all day.


@Clarisse McClellan


Squish up some cooked sweet potato in there too, if you want.


@laurel or squash, cauliflower, really everything goes well with curry.


I have a lentil chili waiting at home for me in my crock pot and I cannot waiiitttt to get home and smash that.


@KeLynn oooh recipe please please pretty please?


@smidge I should probably say, yesterday I thought "I want to use up my beef and my lentils, I bet they would make a nice chili" and started googling. So these recipes are really just the result of quick searches, I can't vouch for them in any way.


As I am an obsessive consumer of chipotle I do a version of this with chipotle sauce and lime and no curry/turmeric


If I'm a spiciness wimp, can I leave out the Sriracha and still have a delicious soup? Because I am.

Also: several years ago I bought my husband a bright red T-shirt with the Sriracha label across the front. He gets more compliments on that T-shirt than on any other article of clothing he has ever owned. It's ridiculous. (And he almost didn't get it, because when I saw it for sale I texted him "Hey, you like cock sauce, right?" and his reply was kind of tentative, which turned out to be because he thought I was setting up a joke rather than making an honest sauce-related inquiry.)


@Elsajeni Yes, yes you can. And please do because lentils are delicious.

tea sonata

I am doing this. That is all.
Spare lentils, you will not defeat me!
Also - dya reckon I can substitute Sriracha for Tobasco?


@tea sonata No. Nononononononono.

Wait - can you use Sriracha instead of Tabasco? Yes absolutely. Can you use Tabasco instead of Sriracha? See above.

tea sonata

@RNL AH! Thank you. Ok, I have made the soup. Now I buy the Sriracha.

mousie housie

Just to confirm... dried lentils can be used without pre-soaking them?

If so, great!


@mousie housie
correct no pre soaking


amazing! Thanks for your sharing the post!


This soup! I make a version from a Nigella Lawson recipe I clipped from the National Post when I was but a wee vegetarian teen. It's so nourishing, in the actual-nutrients way and the balm-to-the-soul way on these gloomy days. I sometimes brighten it up with a bunch of grated ginger, or a swirl of lemon juice (which I suspect is like the acidity of the sriracha..)
seriously try it with GINGER!


I cook a lot but soups tend to be my Waterloo. If I were to make this without tomatoes (allergy), any ideas on what if anything to substitute? 2 cups of tomatoes or sauce is a lot of liquid to just leave out, is why I'm worried.

Clarisse McClellan

@formergr I bet coconut milk would be good. But you'd probably need something more solid also for consistency.

fruiting body

@formergr I actually made red lentil soup for dinner tonight without any tomatoes. I started with: 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, a chunk of ginger, and one japaleño all diced small, simmered in coconut oil for ~5 min. Then I added about 5 carrots, sliced into rounds, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and swirled that around for another 5 minutes or so. Then I added about a cup and a half of red lentils and four cups of water and simmered for about half an hour. (I don't know if your allergy is all nightshades but you could easily leave out the jalapeño)


@fruiting body Just tomatoes, so thanks, this sounds yum! And @Clarisse McClellan, coconut milk sounds really good too, I'll give it a go!


I'm betting this would be fantastic with some fresh ginger grated in. (Of course, I pretty much want to grate fresh ginger in everything.)


Where do you live? Can I move in?

Neve Garrett

@alexandra Come on over! Soup and cake for everyone!

Mical Klip@twitter

Variations on this exact soup comprise a solid 40% of everything I eat. I typically throw in a half-can of coconut milk and some peas as well. I'm eating some now!

Miss Maszkerádi

Point of clarification as I run to the store for a can of diced tomatoes: the sriracha only goes in at the end?

Miss Maszkerádi

OK. Just made this. I used chicken broth instead of water, may have used a bit LESS water/broth than ideal as it's now more of a thick stew than a soup (but still yum), I was generous with the spices, used hot as well as sweet paprika (force of instinct/habit), and used a can of diced tomatoes that had chipotle peppers in it. In other words, it feels like I'm eating a thermonuclear explosion at the moment. But a hot spicy sweet thermonuclear explosion FROM HEAVEN.


Added cauliflower to the veggie mix, and bay leaves to the spices. So amazing. I also like the texture when I don't use the blender.


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