Spicy red lentil soup with pineapple will energize you with creamy lentils, sweet-sour pineapple, and an Indian-inspired spice blend. This easy vegan soup recipe doesn't need a long-simmering time and is refreshing enough for warm days with the comfort you seek when it's cool.
Why you need this recipe
Red lentils, in particular, split red lentils make the ultimate velvety soup and red lentil dahl. Even without the assistance of sweet potatoes, or other creamy aides, add some veggie broth, a few spices, and you can make a delightfully healthy and satisfying meal-soup.
And if you introduce a more unusual ingredient, like pineapple (who knew?), something delightful happens in the soup pot. Not only are we going to add chunks of pineapple, but we'll create the simplest of tomato pineapple purees. This ensures a fruity overtone of flavor with every bowl-clearing spoonful.
Red lentils – Sweet and slightly nutty with a hint of sunshine, red lentils create a hearty soup base. Of all the varieties of lentils (and they are numerous), red lentils are notable beyond their flavor because they so readily break down.
Fresh pineapple – Pineapple, a whole pineapple is the key to making this flavorful soup. Use a medium, fresh pineapple cut into bite-sized chunks. If you can't find a ripe pineapple, use prepared pineapple chunks, or in a pinch, canned pineapple. In the case of canned, be sure to use pineapple packed in juice, not syrup.
Tomatoes – Fresh tomatoes are pureed with half the pineapple to flavor the soup. I've not tried this recipe with canned tomatoes, although they could be substituted if you don't have fresh available.
Spice blend and tempering - Create a spicy flavor base with toasted cumin, coriander, yellow mustard seeds, and dried red chilis. To these, we will add garlic cloves, fresh ginger, and lime zest.
If you are making an Indian recipe, chances are you’ll see the term tempering. There is an essential theme which means frying spices in oil. Of course, we don’t do that oil part here.
So, what do you mean by tempering Denise?
I use tempering as a catch-all phrase for my spice and flavor profile for Indian dishes. It's essentially a paste of dry-roasted whole spices along with aromatics such as garlic and ginger. Tempering then gets added to curries, soups, and stews.
Substitutions for whole spices
If you want to substitute ground spices for whole, use the following equivalents as a rough guide:
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds = 1 ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds = ½ teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns = 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds = 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 4 dried chilis = 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
Pro tip: Don't toast the ground spices. Mix them in with the tempering when you grind it.
how to make this recipe
- The first step is to prepare the spice mixture (tempering). You can toast the whole spices and other ingredients in the same pot you'll use for the soup. Preheat the pot to medium heat and add the spices, garlic, ginger, and lime zest. Be sure to stir constantly. You will only need a minute before the spices start to get aromatic. That's your signal to turn off the heat. Be sure to remove the spices to stop the cooking process.
- Start this recipe by cooking the lentils. I use vegetable broth, but you can use water with a pinch of salt added to bring out the flavor of the lentils. Add a bay leaf for more flavor if desired. Split red lentils take about 15 minutes to cook, so once they get started, you can prep the spices and make the tomato pineapple puree.
- Once you have the spices prepared, add the tomatoes and half the pineapple chunks to a blender or using an immersion blender to puree them. It’s your soup-flavoring smoothie.
- Keep an eye on the lentils and add more broth or water if they are not tender and broken down (mushy). Undercooked lentils are notorious for giving you indigestion. Let's avoid that!
- After the lentils are fully cooked, it's all a matter of adding and stirring. Add the spice tempering, stir a minute, add the tempering, stir a minute. As a final step, stir in the diced pineapple. If you want the soup less sweet, consider adding a squeeze of lime juice.
Red lentils don’t need to be soaked before cooking; however, you should always rinse and pick out any discolored or broken lentils. For firmer lentils such as French (Puy) or black lentils, soaking will reduce cooking times. Unlike beans, soaking lentils won't help in reducing digestive upset. The best course to mitigate this is to be sure lentils are fully cooked.
Red lentils are a great source of low-fat fiber and other nutrients. Consider adding them regularly to your diet because they are an excellent source of plant-based (cholesterol-free) protein.
The easiest way to cut a fresh pineapple is to first use a knife to cut off the greenery and skin at the top and the bottom of the fresh fruit. Next, quarter the pineapple lengthwise and cut out the hardcore of each section. Cut the quarters in half lengthwise so that you end up with 8 pieces. Then cut the fruit away from the skin of each piece and dice the fruit.
A medium fresh pineapple that is cored and cubed yields about 5 cups. For red lentil soup, use 2 cans of pineapple packed in water or natural juice. Use the liquid from the can for the tomato puree plus ⅓ of the chunks of pineapples. Use the remaining pineapple chunks to add to the soup at the end of cooking.
other lentil soups to try
pineapple lentil soup
Spicy red lentil soup with pineapple energizes you with creamy lentils, sweet-sour pineapple, and an Indian spice blend for tasty vegan lentil dahl.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 6 big bowls 1x
- Category: soups
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegan
For the tempering
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
- 4 small dried red chilis (we like our soup on the hot side, so adjust accordingly)
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon of minced ginger
- Zest of 1 lime (save the lime as you want to add lime juice as a garnish)
For the soup
- 1 ½ cups dry red lentils, rinsed (I used the split, but whole lentils are fine too)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (vegetable stock) (or 4 cups water plus 2 veggie bouillon cubes)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of salt (optional if your vegetable broth contains salt)
- 1 fresh pineapple, cut into small chunks (4 ½ - 5 cups diced)
- 4 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
Start by toasting the ingredients for the tempering by adding the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, yellow mustard seeds, dried chilis, garlic, ginger, and lime zest to a heated soup pot. You can also use a small skillet for this purpose.
Stir the ingredients constantly for 1-2 minutes until the spices become fragrant. Immediately transfer the spices to a spice grinder or mortar. Set aside.
In a medium soup pot, add the lentils, vegetable broth, turmeric, and salt. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook the lentils uncovered until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).
While the lentils cook, return to the spices. Grind them or use a pestle to break them up. Leave the tempering until you are ready to use them.
Cut the pineapple into bite-sized chunks (refer to the guide in the notes). Add half the pineapple chunks to a blender or food processor along with the diced tomatoes. Blend until smooth.
Once the lentils are done, add the spice tempering, the pineapple-tomato tempering, and 1 ½ cups of vegetable broth. Stir the soup and allow it to simmer on low for a few minutes until it thickens up.
Mix in the remaining pineapple chunks and give them a few minutes to heat and absorb the flavors. Remove the soup from the heat.
Taste the soup and add lime juice if it's too sweet. Stir in chopped cilantro or use it as a garnish.
- See my guide in the post for substituting ground for whole spices. Don't toast the ground spices. Add them to the tempering when you grind it.
- To easily cut the fresh pineapple, first, use a knife to cut off the top and bottom of the fresh fruit. Next, quarter the pineapple lengthwise and cut out the core of each section. Cut the quarters in half lengthwise so that you end up with 8 pieces. Then cut the fruit away from the skin of each piece and dice the fruit.
- Substitute canned pineapple packed in water or juice for fresh pineapple. A medium fresh pineapple will yield about 6-8 cups which is about 2 regular cans of diced pineapple. Add the liquid and ⅓ of the canned pineapple chunks to the tomatoes for the puree. Use the rest of the pineapple for the soup at the end of cooking.
Keywords: spicy red lentil soup with pineapple