One-Pot Wonders

Simple Lentil Soup in the Pakistani Manner

January 14, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 1 with leftovers for the next day
Author Notes

This is a dish I prepare when I am at home alone, when my husband is working long hours. This was also my go-to dish when I was a single girl- I would let the lentils simmer for 30 mins, while I sat on my bed, after work, catching up on Harper's Bazaar or that book that I just couldn't put down. Or just puttering about. This is a pantry-friendly recipe for me, I always have these items on hand. This lentil soup is very healthy, there is no oil; for some reason, when the two lentils meld together, they produce a buttery taste. Alchemy. The most important thing in this soup is to get the ratios right- which I have described in the recipe below. Red lentils are easily available; the mung lentils (make sure they are of the yellow variety, without husk/skin) are readily found in all Pakistani/Indian grocery stores. All I do before I tuck into it, is: add dollops of yoghurt, diced tomato, and coriander leaves. And if you're like me, set your table for one, and eat there with your best linen and cutlery. So what if you're eating alone, right? And don't forget that glass of Falanghina or Vermentino. —shayma

What You'll Need
  • 1.5 teacup red lentils (Lens culinaris)
  • 1/2 teacup yellow mung lentils (the variety with husk/skin removed), found in Pakistani/Indian grocery stores.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • pinch turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato sauce/passata/canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 teacups boiling water, add more for the consistency of your liking
  • lashings of yoghurt
  • some diced tomato
  • fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
  1. In this recipe, the ratios are most important. I use a small teacup to prepare mine, you can use the American cups measurement, as long as you use the same proportions. My teacup is approximately 2/3 of an American cup measurement. For my recipe, the ratio of red lentils to mung lentils should always be 3:1, with the salt and cayenne pepper adjusted according to the amount you decide to make.
  2. Plonk into a medium-sized heavy bottom pan, (mine is 8in): lentils, salt, haldi, cayenne pepper, garlic clove, tomato sauce (if you dont have the tomato sauce/passata/diced tomatoes, don't worry about opening a brand new can, you can omit it, you won't be compromising on the taste of the end result) and boiling water.
  3. Place it on a low-medium flame, cover with lid, but not completely, so as to allow some steam to escape, otherwise the lentils will overflow- you don't want a yellow protein mess on your stovetop- take my word for it! ;-)
  4. Let it simmer for 30 minutes. You will see that the two breeds of lentils will finally become a velvety puree, indistinguishable from each other; this means it is ready. Smoosh the garlic clove with the back of your ladle, it will blend right in.
  5. Drizzle with yoghurt, add some diced tomatoes (optional) and coriander/cilantro leaves (optional).
  6. Open a bottle of Falanghina or Vermentino. And if you're like me, set your table for one, and eat there with your best linen and cutlery, so what if you're eating alone, right?
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Shayma Saadat is a cookery teacher, food writer, stylist and photographer who focuses on the food of her heritage - Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, which she refers to as Silk Route cuisine. Shayma lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey on Instagram @SpiceSpoon.

7 Reviews

pauljoseph August 11, 2010
I made this today excelent
Jennifer A. January 14, 2010
Thanks Shayma! I love your soup recipes, and I know just the teacup I will use to make this one.
lastnightsdinner January 14, 2010
This sounds lovely. And why not set the table just for yourself - it's part of the experience, right? :)
aargersi January 14, 2010
I love lentils and I love falanghina! I have a bottle in the fridge that has been staring at me for a week or so ... all I need to get is yellow lentils. Yum!
shayma January 14, 2010
falanghina in the fridge? i think we're friends now :) many thanks for your kind words.
WinnieAb January 14, 2010
Love it! I adore mung lentils, but have never thought of combining them with red...what a great idea! The spiced and color are great and such a lovely contrast with the yogurt...yummy!
shayma January 14, 2010
Thanks, Winnie, the yellow mung lentils tighten the soup and make is creamier than it would be without them.