Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

I want to marry this Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger.  Sigh. It’s so incredible.

I remember the first time I had Tom Kha Gai, or Thai Coconut Chicken Soup.  I could not get enough of it.  The combination of flavors was utter perfection.  I was making it at home several times a week for a long time because a) DELICIOUS, b) easy to make and c) DELICIOUS.  And that’s how I feel about this vegetarian version I’ve come up with.  It’s brilliant.  And in case you needed further proof (some of you might) my husband loves it too.  So do my kids.  There might have been fighting over the last bowl…

We’ve made it several times since and every time it just gets better and better.  For this version I added some cubed Thai pumpkin.  Butternut would also work well.  Fall is around the corner, so you can bet we’ll be making this by the gallon in a few months.

I used red lentils for the soup in these pictures.  Other times I’ve used yellow split peas or other pulses I’ve picked up from the Indian market.  Red lentils cook quickly, so the soup comes together in about 20 minutes.  Other legumes will take quite a bit longer to cook.  The slow cooker would be a great method if you’re using other legumes for this soup.

Note 01/29/15: I’ve used Gourmet Gardens lemongrass paste before, which isn’t technically vegan. Authentic Cambodian Lemongrass Paste (6oz jar) is another option I’d recommend. (affiliate link) Dried lemongrass can also be used. Homemade lemongrass paste is another great option.

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Coconut Lentil Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

A healthy vegan soup made with red lentils, coconut milk, and butternut squash. Serve over hot cooked rice.

  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


Units Scale
  • 2 cups red lentils (or yellow split peas), sorted and rinsed well
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 68 cups vegetable broth (can also use chicken broth or water), add less for a thicker soup
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemongrass paste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated (use a microplane)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder (or to taste, some powders and pastes are spicier than others)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen (or strips of lime zest)
  • salt, to taste
  • a little sugar
  • fresh cilantro, garnish
  • sliced green onions, garnish
  • sliced green or red Thai chiles, garnish
  • hot cooked rice, for serving (optional)


  1. Place lentils, onion and vegetable broth in a 3-4 quart pot. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until lentils start to soften, about 15-20 minutes. Add the diced squash, coconut milk, lemongrass paste, ginger, garlic, and kaffir lime leaves. Season well with salt, to taste. Bring back to a low simmer and cook until the lentils have completely broken down and squash is tender. Taste and adjust any seasonings as desired. Add a pinch of sugar.
  2. To serve, ladle soup over hot, cooked rice and garnish as desired.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: soup
  • Cuisine: Asian


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  1. The way you garnish is unbelievable! It looks delicious! I plan to make this! I’m blessed with a very non-fussy husband! It makes it more fun to make meals!

  2. You were right … this was VERY delicious! I couldn’t find lemongrass paste anywhere so I had to make my own and that was a 30-45 min detour, but now I’ve got extras that I’ve frozen for future need. ;) Do you know if the soup itself freezes well??

  3. I was wondering what type of curry you used? Regular turmeric based or the red Thai type? Thank you for the wonderful recipe:)

    1. Hi Cathy! Great question. I didn’t specify which once because I often use whichever is within reach. A curry powder works great, as does curry paste. Totally up to you and your taste preference. As I recall, for this I used an all-purpose curry powder that was turmeric based. :)

      1. Thank you so much for your response..I went ahead and made it with turmeric based curry and loved it:) I am making it again tonight for my sisters who are vegan…It will be a fun to treat to take along for them!

    1. Yes! When using fresh lemongrass, I usually bash the end with the back of my chef’s knife to bruise it, then add the long pieces to my soup and let them simmer to release the flavor and remove before serving.

  4. Thought I would mention Lemongrass essential oil here. It doesn’t go bad is the same thing as fresh travels well (cooking on board ship) and one drop is all you need. Make sure your brand is organically sourced and pure like eh Doterra’s. One bottle will last a long time. Excellent recipe. 5 stars

  5. So delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I used fresh finely chopped lemongrass and only 1/3 cup coconut milk. Very easy and tasty.

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