Indian Dal Soup

This flavorful vegan soup is a crowd-pleaser, and contains no added salt or oil.

5 cups water
½-1 onion, diced
1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seed powder
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1 cup red lentils
1 15-ounce can no-salt garbanzo beans
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt diced tomatoes
2 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (2-3 medium potatoes)

2 cups fresh Lacinato/dinosaur kale, cut into ¼ inch strips
3 tablespoons ground, hulled sesame seeds
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped finely

Place ¼ cup of the water into a large soup pot and sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the ginger, garlic powder, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom and chili powder, and mix well. Add the remaining water, lentils, garbanzos, tomatoes and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, until lentils are tender. Just before serving, add the last three ingredients: the kale, ground sesame seeds and basil, and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Notes: Use a small coffee grinder to grind the sesame seeds. Substitutions: yellow or red onion may be used. If you don’t have any of the spices, just leave them out; the soup will still taste great, just milder. Red lentils can be found in the bulk section at Whole Foods. Be sure to buy “no-salt-added” beans (Eden brand) and tomatoes if you are not cooking your own beans from dry or using fresh tomatoes.

Preparation: 20 minutes; cooking: 60 minutes; makes 4 hearty bowls of soup.

(Adapted from recipe for Hearty Dal Soup, 2007.)

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  1. Pam says

    Thank you Cathy! I just made a pot of this soup and it is EXCELLENT! Great creamy texture from the red lentils, and good flavor. It is very mildly spicy. Next time I am going to also add a little bit of a chili that is hotter than ancho.

    I cooked it in my pressure cooker – followed instructions, except where it says “…simmer for 45 minutes…” Instead, bring up to high pressure in a pressure cooker and cook for 6 minutes on high. Used natural pressure release. Then added the greens, basil and sesame and simmered the last 10 minutes without pressure. It turned out perfectly.

    Recipe maked a lot. How well do you think it would freeze, Cathy?

    • says

      Hi Pam, I’ve heard that potatoes don’t freeze that well, that their texture is different after freezing; but I’d give it a try anyway :) Thanks for the pressure cooker directions! 😉

  2. Kristen says

    This is a really incredible recipe. Instead of the spices listed, I just add a tablespoon of Mae Ploy yellow curry paste (I found it at a local Oriental food store). The daal is incredibly delicious with this curry paste! My husband and I both love it. We also really like it with fresh rosemary instead of basil. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  3. Talia says

    I made this soup with the curry vegetables last night for a couple of friends and we all loved both dishes so much. We started a no-salt/no-sugar diet 3 weeks ago and both dishes were so flavorful you couldn’t even tell they had no salt. I am so happy I happened upon your blog. I read somewhere that you have a cookbook. Where can I buy it?

    • says

      Hi Talia, yay! Welcome to the blog! :) I am working on a cookbook. Put your name on my mailing list (upper left corner of my website) and I’ll announce it when it comes out.

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