Spiced Tomato Soup with Red Lentils

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This fantastic vegan twist on tomato soup came into our lives via the Australian director of a small women’s choir I sang with in London. She sourced it from an Aussie women’s magazine that I’d never heard of but suddenly have a love-at-first-bite thing going with.

This tomato soup makes an approachable yet surprisingly nuanced dinner straight from the pantry in 45 minutes. Approachable yet surprisingly nuanced. It’s exactly the kind of meal we should expect from the totally rad, wildly overqualified women who brought it to us.

Spiced Tomato Soup with Red Lentils 780 _ Umami Girl


This soup works well for a family meal, and it only gets better over the course of a week, so it’s also great for a week of not-sad desk lunches.

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Spiced Tomato Soup with Red Lentils

This recipe is adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly via a friend. I've never actually seen this magazine. The website looks perfectly nice, but in the event it is a cover site for a porn ring or a right-wing propagandist, I apologize. How's that for a recipe headnote?

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 26-ounce boxes or 2 28-ounce cans chopped tomatoes
  • 4 cups good vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 generous teaspoon salt (if using unsalted tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a 5-quart heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cumin, and garam masala and cook, stirring, one minute more. Add the sambal oelek, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, stock or water, lentils, sugar, and cilantro, and stir to combine well.
  3. Raise the heat to high to bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until lentils are very tender and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 271 Total Fat:: 8.5g Carbohydrates:: 43g Fiber:: 8.5g Protein:: 10.4g

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  1. Bernadette Nagy

    Hi! I was googling for my fave soup recipes for ‘Matthew who is interested in cooking soups today…..googled tomato and coriander women’s weekly and soup….and you were 4th on the list!!!! It was fun to read! From your choir director and friend x

    1. That’s fun! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  2. Deborah

    Carolyn, thanks so much for the recipe. I just made it and it’s delicious! I ramped up the sambal oelek because I like my food spicy but otherwise didn’t change anything.

    This is going into my regular rotation, for sure! So healthy and delicious.

  3. Lori

    Hi Carolyn,

    Made this this evening and really enjoyed it (13-year old liked it, 4-year old did not). Did make too much, though, and with my husband out of town I don’t think it will all get eaten soon enough. We rarely have leftovers, so I am not accustomed to freezing meals. Do you happen to know if this freezes well?



    1. Hi Lori, glad you liked it. I don’t see why you couldn’t freeze it (though I’ve never tried). The texture of the lentils might change a bit, but I would think it would still taste good.

  4. Leslie

    When I lived in England, I sang with the Imperial College Choir. It didn’t seem to matter that I wasn’t part of the university or that I was older than most of the kids. We made great music and I loved it. The choir director I had has moved on, but it might be worth checking out for you!!

  5. RTF

    I’m from Australia and the Women’s Weekly is definitely a credible source for a recipe. They are more concerned with meals that are easy to cook at home than anything else, though.

    1. Excellent, thanks for the confirmation! I did find it funny that this recipe brings together both garam masala and sambal oelek in a strange cultural mishmash of prepared spice blends, but what can I say? It really works. It’s quite the metaphor for the life of an expat in a multicultural city, in case you wanted a side of armchair philosophy with your easy-to-cook dinner. 🙂