Red Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions

I know Summer isn't a traditional season to be thinking about hot soup, but I happen to work in an office that is kept at sub-zero temperatures for the same reason that offices across American suffer from the same Tundra conditions: insanity!  Soups are a low sugar/high fiber way to satisfy hunger and keep you warm.  One of my all-year-round go-to soups is lentil soup.

Lentils are high in protein and high in fibers.  According to an article in Medical News Today, "many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of foods like lentils decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight."  Lentils can be found in red, brown and green varieties.   I love them all, but I find that split red lentils are quick and easy to prepare when compared to other beans so this soup recipe is non only  accessible, fast, inexpensive and a high -quality protein source, but it's also warming, satisfying and easy to freeze - a huge time saver for those of us with busy schedules and lack of cooking inspiration.  

Serves 4-6

  • 1 tablespoons of coconut oil (I use Olive Oil in colder month, but an Ayurveda trick is to use coconut oil for cooling)

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

  • 1 celery stick, diced

  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced

  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder

  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder

  • 2 yellow beets, peeled and diced

  • 6 cups of water or store-bought low-sodium vegetable broth (MSG-free, gluten-free) version

  • 1¼ cups split red lentils which you have soaked overnight, drained and rinse thoroughly.

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme - optional


  1. Important- The night before (or at least two hours before if using split lentils),  soak the lentils at room temperature.  Then drain and thoroughly rinse them.  This will remove gas causing enzymes from lentils -yes even the split ones.  There is science to back this up but trust the Ayurveda wisdom on this one.

  2.  Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. When it dances, add the diced yellow onion, carrot, celery, turmeric, cumin, ginger and coriander powder.

  3. Cook until the onion soften and the mixture becomes aromatic, ~3 to 5 minutes. Sofrito style for those Caribbean brothers and sisters.

  4. Add water or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the red lentils and reduce the heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking at a simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the vegetables are tender.  Stir and monitor every five minutes so lentils don’t stick to the bottom of your pan.

  5. Prepare the caramelized onions while the soup cooks. If using thyme, remove the leaves from stems till you accumulate enough thyme leaves.

  6. Heat a medium-sized skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat until the oil dances. Add the onion, cook for 3 minutes and reduce to low temperature.  Add thyme..

  7.  Keep the heat low so the onions begin to brown, stirring often so onion won’t stick.

  8.  If the onions start sticking to the pan, add a bit of water. Continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the onions are caramelized and golden brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  9. Fill bowls with soup and top with a tablespoon of onions and serve, or simply stir the onions into the soup.