Hearty Lentil Soups

Prachi Joshi

Monsoon meals are all about warming bowls of soup – so healthful, filling and yummy!

If you’re bored of the usual tomato or mushroom or sweet corn soups, why not try making soups with an Indian kitchen staple? Lentils or dals are ubiquitous in Indian cooking and most homes have at least two or three types of lentils sitting in the pantry at all times.

Our consumption of lentils dates back centuries. They were in fact, amongst the first crops to have been domesticated and cultivated for food. Their distinctively earthy flavour and high protein content makes them a popular ingredient in most cuisines around the world, especially in India, where they are a primary source of protein for the large percentage of the vegetarian population.

Lentils are low in fat and a good source of fibre, so they are particularly suitable for those watching their diet. They are also a good source of folate, iron, potassium and phosphorous – all elements essential for a healthy body. 

Breaking down the different types of lentils… 

Brown lentils are the most common type and are known as sabut (whole) masoor. They have a mild flavour and can turn mushy if cooked for too long. Apart from dals and salads, they are perfect for making soups.
Red lentils are split masoor dal, which also cook fairly quickly and are used to make a variety of curries and khichdi.
Yellow pigeon pea or the ubiquitous toor dal is the most commonly used lentil for curries in India.
Green lentils include the French Puy lentils as well as the sabut mung beans that we find in India. These take the longest time to the cook and generally work better when sprouted. They are great for making sprout salads.
The black gram or urad dal is used for a variety of preparations – from dosa and idli batter in Southern India to the Bollywood favourite of maa ki dal (dal makhani) in the North.

In addition to our usual Indian preparations, lentils can be used for a variety of salad and soup recipes. Try this hearty Italian lentil soup for your next meal. We advise making an extra-large batch, as your family will be devouring it by the bowlfuls!

You can also check out the wonderful range of pulses we have at Traditions by Foodhall.