Barbara Gulino - Spicy Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

Food blogger Barbara Gulino shares one of her favorite soups to warm up on a cold winter's day. For more information and additional recipes,

visit her blog


RECIPE: Barbara Gulino's Spicy Red Lentil Soup with Sweet Potato

This recipe takes 35 minutes to make, and can easily be doubled.

Makes 6 servings



  • 6 cups water
  • 1 ¼ cup red lentils
  • 1 large garnet yam (about 1 ¼ - ½ lbs.), peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded, membranes removed, and finely diced (or ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced or 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ¼ - ½ cup canned full fat unsweetened coconut milk, well stirred
  • 2 – 4 tablespoons minced cilantro, plus additional for garnish
  • Optional garnish: plain Greek yogurt


In a large saucepan, bring water to boil. Rinse lentils in a fine mesh strainer, then add to the water, stir to combine and bring to a boil. If they foam, skim off as much foam as possible. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a good simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add cubed sweet potato and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes until lentils are very soft, have broken apart, and a fork can easily pierce a sweet potato cube.

While the lentils are simmering, heat a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute, add oil, heat for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, jalapeno, turmeric and cumin seed, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and ¾ teaspoon salt, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until tomatoes have softened. When lentils and sweet potatoes have finished cooking, add tomato mixture, plus remaining ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt, minced cilantro, and coconut milk to the cooked lentils and heat gently for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Taste, and adjust seasonings accordingly. To serve, garnish with a sprinkle of additional minced cilantro, and a spoonful of yogurt.

Adapted from Lynn Walters' Cooking at The Natural Café in Santa Fe, The Crossing Press 1992

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