Get ready to whip up a vegan soup that's going to make you so dang happy! Roasted Carrot Lentil Soup topped with coconut milk, chili oil, and roasted chestnuts. This one-pot meal is a banger to serve as part of a Thanksgiving spread or Christmas dinner. It’s easy to meal prep, takes less than 30 minutes to make, freezes well, and yes, you'll nail it on your first try!
I've spent countless kitchen hours perfecting this lentil carrot soup, and lemme tell you, it's the soup equivalent of a warm hug on a winter's day. With or without the chili oil, with or without the roasted chestnuts, it’s a great warm meal to make you feel better any time of the year. Like my Filipino mung bean soup, arhar dal, and Turkish yogurt soup with mint butter, you don’t need anything to make this other than a soup pot and a blender, or immersion blender.
No complicated steps, no obscure techniques - just vegan food that absolutely slaps! Gather up your ingredients, and let the aroma of roast goodness fill your kitchen.
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
✊Vegan AF and GF: Like all of the vegan soup recipes I share, this is made completely without animal products and has no cholesterol. No chicken broth, parmigiana cheese, or other such cruelty to be found here! It also just happens to be completely gluten-free.
🔥Roasting Magic: The secret to why this soup is the most delicious? Roasting those carrots, onions, and garlic to golden perfection before pureeing them with cooked lentils. This process intensifies the flavors, adding a rich, caramelized depth to the soup that will have you questioning why you ever boiled veggies in the first place.
🌟 Lentil Brilliance: Split red lentils not only cook up faster than other lentils, but also lend a creamy, luxurious texture without needing heavy cream or dairy. It's a protein-packed, packed plant-based win!
🥸Foolproof Simplicity: Like all the plant-based recipes on my blog, this Roasted Carrot Lentil Soup recipe has been meticulously perfected by constant repetition and refinement. After the recipe is perfected in my kitchen, I share it with a massive team of dedicated recipe testers from all over the world. My testers loved it, and it works reliably with varying brands of coconut milk and chili oil.
🥕Notable ingredients and substitutions
I mean, obv you aren’t ginna make a carrot soup without carrots! These vibrant orange gems are more than just eye candy - they're packed with beta-carotene, promoting healthy vision. I’m sorta obsessed with carrots, which is why I share great recipes for Indian carrot pickles, and Indonesian carrot and vegetable fritters on this blog. If you're feeling adventurous, try swapping out boring ol’ orange carrots with multicolored heirloom carrots, or parsnips.
Roasted sliced ginger introduces a subtle warmth and aromatic quality to the soup. Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger lends its distinctive heat and aroma to everything from Indian soya chaap sabji to Korean BBQ sauce. If you're not a fan, freshly grated galangal (like I use in the famous Thai soup Tom Kha, and in my tom yum paste) can offer a more subdued presence. Otherwise, feel free to leave it out if you just aren’t down in ginger town!
Cumin and Coriander
Toasting cumin seeds and coriander seeds releases their earthy, nutty aroma, enhancing the soup's base. They are both commonly used in Indian dishes such as Peerkangai Kootu, and Sukha Kala Chana. If you don’t have the whole seeds, you can substitute with cumin and coriander powder.
Split red lentils (the same kind you use for making masoor dal: Indian red lentil soup) are super quick-cooking legumes. Rich in fiber and protein, split red lentils originate from the Indian subcontinent. If you're out of split red lentils, you can make this soup with regular red lentils or even yellow split peas, but you will probably need to increase the water (or vegetable stock) and increase the cooking time a little to make sure they are tender before you blend ‘em up.
I use unsalted vegetable stock for making this soup as well as more exotic dishes like sayur lodeh, and khao suey. The reason is that calling for fully unsalted stock, and then giving you the amount of salt to add to the soup gives everyone around the world more consistent results, since store-bought stock varies a lot in its sodium content. I usually make my own just by boiling carrots, onion and celery with a little garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves. If you have to get store-bought stock and can’t find fully unsalted, opt for low-sodium stock, and adjust the salt in the recipe down a little to your taste.
Full-fat coconut milk adds a luscious, creamy texture without overpowering the soup's savory notes. If you have some leftover after making this soup, put it to good use in making Malaysian Bubur Cha Cha, Filipino Gingitaang Kalabasa, or South Indian Olan. For a lower-fat option, use light coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk as a substitute.
I love topping this soup with slices of roasted chestnuts. This touch is especially nice if you are including the soup as part of a Thanksgiving or Christmas menu, but otherwise, you can totally enjoy the soup without ‘em. For convenience, I use pre-roasted chestnuts in a bag or a jar, but of course, you can also use home-roasted chestnuts if you have some.
*See the recipe card at the bottom of the page for exact quantities, nutritional info, and detailed cooking directions.
Tom Yum Twist: Give your Roasted Carrot Red Lentil Soup a little Thai loving! When toasting the coriander and cumin, add a heaping tablespoon of tom yum paste. The result? You’ve just given this soup a fragrant, complex Southeast Asian upgrade. In keeping with this Thai variation, swap regular chili oil out in the garnish for nam prik pao or nam jim jaew.
Baharat Bliss: Give your soup a Middle Eastern vibe by replacing the cumin and coriander seeds with 2 teaspoons of baharat spice mix during the toasting phase, a tablespoon of tomato paste and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice during the boiling of the lentils.
The warm and aromatic blend of Middle Eastern spices will transform your soup into a rich, fragrant delight, perfect to accompany vegan kofta or vegan shawarma on freshly grilled pita bread, dripping with tarator dressing and shatta sauce. Instead of drizzling with chili oil and coconut milk, swirl in a little homemade plant-based labneh or homemade vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios to keep with the Middle Eastern style.
📖 How to make vegan Carrot Lentil Soup
Nail this perfectly on your first shot by following these step-by-step instructions with helpful tips. Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
Prep School for Roasty Time:
Preheat the Oven to 400°F (205°C). In a bowl, mix olive oil, diced onion, celery, sliced carrots, garlic, ginger, and paprika.
Spread seasoned veggies on a parchment-lined baking pan. Roast for 30 minutes until tender.
Spice Up the Pot:
In a pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. After 90 seconds, when the oil it hot, stir in the cumin, coriander, turmeric and crushed red pepper flakes.
Lentil Me Your Ears and I’ll Sing You A Song:
After just 60 seconds, when spices are fragrant, stir in red lentils, vegetable broth or water and maple syrup.
Turn it Into Actual Soup:
Cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes until lentils are tender.
Coconut Veggie Reunion Party:
Add the roasted veggies, coconut milk, and salt to the pot.
Blend to Smoothness:
Blend the contents of the pot until smooth, either in batches in a blender or with an immersion blender. Don’t be impatient - the smoother the soup, the more pleasant it is to eat!
Make it Pretty:
Ladle the hot soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk, chili oil, sliced chestnuts, cracked black peppercorns and cilantro leaves.
Picture this: a steaming bowl of Roasted Carrot Lentil Soup with crispy Indian onion bhaji to dip into it. These crispy, golden bites also happen to be gluten-free if that’s your thing.
- Robust Roasty Tastes: When roasting the vegetables, don't rush the process. Allow them to achieve a deep, caramelized color. If the edges of the onions get a little dark, that’s ok. Remember, it is all gonna get blended up anyway. Just make sure nothing is burnt.
- Stock Selection Savvy: 9 times out of 10, homemade vegetable stock will be better than anything you can find in the store. Just boil up the ratio of 2 parts onion, 1 part carrot, 1 part celery with plenty of water, maybe a couple of cloves of garlic, perhaps some bay leaves, dried porcini mushrooms, and black peppercorns. After the veggies are mushy, drain the stock through a strainer, keep the liquid, and compost those lifeless veggies.
- Texture Playtime with Lentils: If you don’t want a 100% pureed soup, reserve a small portion of cooked lentils before blending. Stir them back into the smooth soup, offering delightful pops of whole lentils amidst the creamy backdrop.
🤷♀️ Recipe FAQs
If you're not a fan of coconut milk, try unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, oat milk or another unsweetened plant-based milk. Fully-fat coconut milk provides a great richness, but plant-based milk are lower-fat alternatives.
Adjust the spice level by reducing the amount of chili oil or omitting it altogether, tailoring the heat to your preference.
While red lentils contribute to the creamy texture, and keep the color of the finished soup more vibrant, yellow split peas, toor dal (what I use to make arhar dal), split mung means (like you would make Filipino ginisang munggo with) green or brown lentils (what I use to make Moroccan Harira) can be substituted.
But here is the thing, split red lentils cook way faster, and require a little less water to cook. So if you use one of these alternatives, allow for slightly longer cooking time, and add extra water or unsalted vegetable stock as needed to provide a similar smooth consistency once blended.
While roasting intensifies the flavors, you can opt for a quicker version by boiling the vegetables along with the lentils until tender before blending.
Store any leftover Roasted Carrot Lentil Soup in airtight containers. Place them in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking to maintain freshness. The soup will stay good for up to 5 days under refrigeration.
If you're planning to freeze portions, ensure the soup is completely cooled before transferring to freezer-safe containers. Leave some space at the top to allow for expansion. Label containers with the date for easy tracking. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw frozen soup, transfer the container(s) to the refrigerator the night before serving. For a quicker thaw, place the sealed container in a bowl of cold water.
🔥 Stovetop Reheating:
Pour the desired amount into a saucepan and reheat over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even heating. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Add fresh garnishes when you serve the reheated soup to freshen it up.
⚡️ Microwave Reheating:
For a quick fix, transfer a serving to a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until thoroughly warmed. Be cautious to avoid overheating and uneven reheating.
✌️My faves to serve with this soup:
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Roasted carrot lentil soup with chestnuts and chili oil
For the soup base:
(Optional) to garnish:
- Coconut milk or unsweetened plant-based yogurt
- Chili oil
- ⅓ cup roasted chestnuts sliced
- Coarsely cracked black pepper
- Cilantro leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
- In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, diced onion, celery, sliced carrots, whole peeled garlic cloves, slices of ginger, and paprika.
- Spread the seasoned vegetables out onto a parchment paper lined baking pan and roast for 30 minutes until they are tender.
- In a medium pot, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. After 90 seconds, when the oil is hot, add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric and crushed red pepper flakes.
- After 60 seconds, when the spices have become fragrant, stir in split red lentils, unsalted vegetable stock or water, and maple syrup.
- Place a lid on the pot and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat until the lentils are tender.
- Add the roasted vegetables, full-fat coconut milk and salt to taste.
- Blend the contents of the pot either in a blender in batches, or using an immersion blender until completely smooth.
- Serve the soup hot, garnished with a drizzle of coconut milk or unsweetened plant-based yogurt. Finish with a swirl of chili oil for a kick, sliced roasted chestnuts, and fresh cilantro leaves.