Belinda Jeffery

Spicy Carrot, Red Lentil and Coconut Soup

I can think of nothing more satisfying to eat on a wintry evening than a bowlful of this vibrant orange soup. It’s all those things I love about soup – thick, satisfying, full of flavour, and just perfect for dunking soldiers of toast into! And, it’s easy to make and freezes well too. If you’ re wondering what the brilliant-green beans are on top of the soup, they’re shelled edamame (soy beans) that in a piece of serendipity I was given on the day we photographed it. I added a spoonful to each bowl and then scattered some over the top. They’re not vital by any means, but if you did happen to have some do give them a try, as they add not only their exquisite colour but a lovely textural contrast to the soup too.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped, optional
  • 1½ heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons #harissa
  • 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato pesto (or regular tomato paste)
  • 1¼ kg carrots, peeled and fairly finely sliced
  • 150g red lentils, thoroughly washed
  • 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Approx. 1½ litres (6 cups) cool water (double-check next time I make it)
  • Juice ½ – 1 lemon (or lime), to taste
  • 1 x 270ml can coconut cream


  • A little coconut cream, tiny herb sprigs (delicate chervil or dill sprigs are particularly lovely), and freshly ground black pepper, to serve


  • # My favourite harissa is Chris Manfield’s which is available in speciality food shops and on-line

Warm the olive oil in a very large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli and cook them, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Now add the spices, harissa, and tomato pesto and cook them, stirring all the while, for another minute or so to release their aroma (you’ll get a lovely whoosh of spicy fragrance as you do this).


Tip in the carrots and lentils and give them a good swish around so they’re coated in the spicy mixture. Finally, add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper and water. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to the boil, then reduce the heat to low so it bubbles gently. Partly cover the pan and cook the soup for about 1 hour, or until the carrots are tender.


Allow it to cool slightly then puree the soup in batches in a blender, or if you have an immersion blender, use this to puree it in the pan. Gently re-heat it then stir in the lemon (or lime) juice and coconut cream. Taste the soup and add more salt or lemon juice if necessary.


To serve the soup, ladle it into warm bowls. Dribble a little coconut cream over the top, along with a good grinding of black pepper and a few herb sprigs (or lightly-cooked soy beans). Serves 8.