Savor the flavors of fall with this delightful easy pumpkin soup recipe with coconut milk and nutty red lentils. Made in just 6 easy steps, this comforting bowl of autumn soup features the warmth of pumpkin, the creaminess of coconut, and the earthy goodness of red lentils. With no cream, this soup is naturally vegan and dairy-free.
This is one of my favorite fall recipes because it is a little bit of everything.
It is a pumpkin soup, but also a red lentil soup and a bit of a carrot soup.
It can be served as an appetizer, but you can also have it for dinner because the addition of red lentils make it very filling! Just add a few slices of crusty bread or crunchy croutons and a healthy tossed green salad.
However, if you don't actually like the taste of red lentils I'd suggest making this easy butternut squash soup with sweet potato instead!
😍 Why this recipe works
Easy - Sauteing the pumpkin with a bit of olive oil over high heat, is like making roasted pumpkin but in the pot. This easier and quicker way ensures that we get ALL the flavor and that the soup doesn't taste blunt.
Filling - The red lentils make it very filling, providing lots of fiber and plant based protein. You only need some crusty bread (and maybe a green salad) and you've got yourself a cozy dinner.
Flavor twist - This is one of those squash recipes where all the flavors pair very well together. The warm flavor of pumpkin, the earthiness from the lentils and the exotic notes of coconut create a warm and cozy flavor combination. This may not be your ordinary pumpkin soup with coconut milk, but it sure checks all the boxes!
Customizable - You can change the spices used in this squash lentil soup according to your taste. Dried thyme, cumin and nutmeg are used to add more dimension, but you can make your own spice combinations to suit your taste (see some suggestions in the Variations section).
Diet - This is the perfect recipe for many people with diet restrictions since it is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan.
Pumpkin: If one thing is for sure, every fall you have a lot of different types of pumpkin to choose from, so just choose your favorite variety. If you can find sugar pumpkins or Hokkaido pumpkins choose these because they're sweet, smooth, and creamy. You can also use butternut squash, kabocha squash, acorn squash or carnival squash. And if you have any leftover, just make this easy homemade pumpkin puree from scratch.
Onion: Use whatever type of onion you have available such as red onion, sweet onion or white onion.
Garlic: Use 2 garlic cloves for stronger flavor.
Coconut milk: Make sure to use the canned type which contains 18-20% fat. Not the carton type. Depending on the country or the brand you may also find it as coconut cream. As long as you check the nutrition information and the fat content is 18-20% fat, you're good to go!
Honey or maple syrup: You may not need to add any sweetener if the pumpkin used is sweet enough. For a vegan pumpkin soup make sure to use maple syrup and not honey.
🥣 Substitutions / Variations
Squash - As mentioned before, this recipe will work with any squash. One of my favorite is butternut squash which produces a very creamy, nutty soup much like roasted butternut squash soup.
I’ve also used butternut squash in this creamy butternut squash risotto with feta cheese with wonderful results. It is actually great for all kinds of pumpkin recipes and according to thekitchn.com you may find it in the ingredients of many canned pumpkin purees.
Sweet potato - You can use sweet potato instead of the carrot or use both. The sweet potato will add sweetness and additional nutrients to this recipe.
Coconut cream - Instead of coconut cream you can also use yogurt. Yogurt is a great healthy addition, which will make your soup creamier, with less calories while adding more protein at the same time. However, keep in mind that the soup will no longer be vegan or dairy-free.
Spices - This recipe recipe uses cumin, nutmeg and dried thyme (thyme is a herb but lets count it as a spice for now).
Thyme pairs very well with both pumpkin and red lentils, but if you believe that you won't like it you can substitute it with 1-2 bay leaves, or a teaspoon of cinnamon or omit it altogether.
For a more classic approach, you can also use ginger and curry powder or ginger and pumpkin pie spice.
Water - Instead of water you can also use vegetable broth, though I don't really find it necessary. For a non-vegan option, you can also use chicken stock.
🔪 Step-by-step Instructions
Follow this easy step-by-step guide to make this red lentil and pumpkin soup with coconut milk:
Step 1: Heat a large pot over high heat. Transfer the olive oil, the pumpkin and the carrot to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
Step 2: When you can see some dark brown spots on the surface of the pumpkin, add the onion, the garlic, the red lentils, the salt, the black pepper and the cumin. Stir for 2-3 minutes.
Step 3: Add the water and the thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
Step 4: Remove the pot from the stovetop and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. You can also do this in batches using a regular blender or food processor.
Step 5: Add the coconut milk and grate some nutmeg over the surface. Then, stir to combine.
Step 6: Taste the soup and adjust the salt, the spices and the sweetness (by adding some honey or not).
👨🍳 Expert Tips
- Saute the pumpkin and the carrot in the pot in one layer. Don't stir, let the pieces brown well from one side, until you can see brown spots on their surface. Then stir and let them brown some more on the other side.
- To make the flavor of the red lentils less intense, rinse them well under running water (use a large strainer for this) before adding them to the pot.
- There's no need to finely chop the vegetables, since they'll get blended once the soup is cooked.
- If you don't have an immersion blender, wait for the soup to cool until you can handle it and blend it in batches using a regular blender or a food processor.
Any leftovers should be kept in the fridge inside an airtight container for 3-4 days. The soup will thicken after it’s stored, but you can add some water to loosen it up and re-heat it on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in a microwave oven.
You can freeze soup recipes like this, in individual portions. When you want a quick and healthy meal or need dinner in a hurry, just take out of the freezer, thaw and enjoy. If the soup separates, give it a vigorous stir or blend it again to make it creamy.
Using pumpkin puree is not suggested for this recipe. The taste of the pumpkin is intensified by sautéing it over high heat in order for some caramelization to develop. This is something you can't do with puree. Pumpkin pie filling is also not suggested!
In many cases, and if in doubt about the quality, it's best to first sort the lentils and rinse them under running water before cooking.
Brown or green whole lentils will not work well with this recipe and may take more time to cook. Other split lentils without the skin and with a mellow flavor may be nice, but they have not been tested so I can't say for sure.
If you tried this easy Pumpkin Soup Recipe with Red Lentils or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you!
Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk and Red Lentils
- 1 large pot
- 1 immersion blender or regular blender or food processor
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil (or another vegetable oil)
- 4 cups (464 g) pumpkin (cubed)
- 1 (100 g) carrot (chopped)
- 1 (120 g) red onion (chopped)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup (200 g) split red lentils
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 4 cups (950 g) hot water (start with 3 ½ cups and add more, if needed, after blending.)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ cup (115 g) coconut milk (plus more for serving)
- Freshly grated nutmeg (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons (40 g) maple syrup or honey (optional)
- Sauté: Heat a large pot over high heat. Transfer the olive oil, the pumpkin and the carrot to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
- When you can see some dark spots on the surface of the pumpkin, add the onion, the garlic, the red lentils, the salt, the black pepper and the cumin. Stir for 2-3 minutes.
- Boil: Add the water and the thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Blend: Remove the pot from the stovetop and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.
- Finish: Add the coconut milk and grate some nutmeg over the surface. Stir to combine.
- Taste the soup and adjust the salt, the spices and the sweetness (by adding some honey or not). If the soup is too thick add water as necessary.Bon appetit!
- Optional: Transfer the lentils to a sieve, rinse very well with fresh water and let them drain. This will make their flavor less intense and will remove any impurities.
- No need to finely chop the vegetables, since they'll get blended once the soup is cooked.
- This recipe is 50% lentil soup and 50% pumpkin soup. To make it more of a pumpkin soup, use half the lentils.
- For maximum caramelization, sauté the pumpkin and the carrot in one layer.
- If you don't have an immersion blender, blend the soup in batches using a regular blender or a food processor.
- I like to serve this soup with crunchy croutons, crushed pink peppercorns and 1-2 sprigs of parsley or Mediterranean hartwort. Watercress or chives are also great!
- Any leftovers should be kept in the fridge inside an airtight container. The soup will thicken after it’s stored, so add some water to loosen it up and re-heat over medium heat or in the microwaves.