Quick and delicious red lentil soup that is infused with ginger, garlic, and tamarind! This plant-based comforting soup has the perfect balance of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy! Just 45 minutes, one pot, and 10 ingredients are required!
Because most red lentil soups rely on the use of a ton of spices, I challenged myself to make one that doesn’t require any at all while still being super flavorful.
Challenge completed with this sweet, sour, and a bit spicy lentil soup! It requires just 10 ingredients, one-pot, and less than one hour to prepare!
⭐️ Why You Should Try This Recipe
- It’s fuss-free and takes just 45 minutes to prepare: all you have to do is sauté the aromatics, add the lentils and seasonings, cover with water, and let simmer. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner!
- It’s packed with flavor: think sweet, salty, sour, and slightly spicy. This soup is super flavorful and so comforting!
- It’s a readers’ favorite! Teresa said: “Highly recommend doubling this recipe! Love the combination of sweet, tangy, & spicy. Will add this to my regular rotation for sure!” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
🥣 How to Make This Sweet & Sour Lentil Soup
Here is what you will need:
- Red lentils – Use split red lentils, not the whole ones. Split red lentils cook faster and are perfect for dals and soups.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger not only brings a citrusy flavor, but it also adds some freshness and a subtle peppery flavor to the soup.
- Tomatoes – Preferably fresh and ripe tomatoes.
- Soy sauce – For saltiness and umami. To make this recipe gluten-free, use coconut aminos.
- Maple syrup – To balance with the sourness and spiciness. If you don’t have maple syrup on hand, feel free to use agave syrup or coconut sugar.
- Tamarind paste – The sourness of this soup comes from tamarind paste. You can find this condiment online, or in most Asian/Indian grocery stores.
- Lime – For extra sourness!
Start by sautéing the aromatics: onion, garlic, and ginger in a large pot for a few minutes or until the onions start to caramelize.
Next, add the chopped tomatoes and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.
Add the red lentils, water, soy sauce for saltiness and maple syrup for sweetness. Bring to a boil and let the soup simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked.
The sourness comes mainly from tamarind juice which also adds sweetness to the soup. To make tamarind juice, soak about two tablespoons of tamarind paste (the one I use has seeds in it as well) in hot water for a few minutes before straining. Then add the juice to the soup and stir to combine.
To finish, add a squeeze of lime juice for some freshness, and our lentil soup is ready!
If using 1 whole small Thai chili, it is mildly spicy. Feel free to omit it if you don’t want any spiciness.
You can serve it as is, or with crusty bread, white rice, quinoa, farro, or even noodles on the side!
This red lentil soup will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
I like to serve this lentil soup topped with a drizzle of vegan coconut yogurt and some chopped cilantro. This sweet and sour soup is perfect for fall and winter days when you are looking for a comforting, nutritious, and flavorful meal!
🍛 More Lentil Recipes
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
Update August 2022: Recipe has been updated with a more detailed post and new photos.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger, and sautée for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are golden brown.
- Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft and saucy. Add the sliced chili and stir to combine.
- Next, add the red lentils, water, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes. The lentils must be tender.
- In the meantime, prepare the tamarind juice. In a small bowl, stir together the tamarind paste with the warm water. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before straining to keep only the juice.
- Once the lentils are cooked, stir in the tamarind juice and lime juice.
- Serve with a dollop of vegan yogurt or coconut milk, and chopped cilantro! This lentil soup will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
About the Author
Thomas Pagot is the founder, photographer, and recipe developer behind Full of Plants. He created the blog in 2016 as a personal cookbook for vegan recipes. Through years of recipe development, Thomas has successfully grown Full of Plants into a trusted resource for plant-based recipes.
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