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Vegan Mulligatawny Lentil Soup

When the weather is cold in Toronto, it’s the perfect time of year to test a hearty soup recipe. In five days I made this recipe five times to get it just right, and then I had to make it a sixth time because my husband helped himself to the fifth test, the test that I was going to style and photograph! Could I blame him? No. This vegan lentil mulligatawny soup is delicious.  

Mulligatawny is a very filling and nourishing soup. The lentils and rice thicken the soup as it simmers, and the vegetables are added at various stages to give the soup the right colour, flavour and texture. At the end, coconut milk is added for creaminess and lime juice brightens the overall flavour.

If you’re a novice cook, I suggest taking 10 minutes and preparing the ingredients before you head to the stovetop. Getting organized will make this recipe more enjoyable to prepare, and you’ll probably have more success with it too. One of the most important steps is a technique I learned from a chef I once worked with, and it is to cook the spices in a little water before adding in the rest of the liquid. Simmering the spices until the water evaporates takes away the chalky flavour from the spices. This technique works especially well when making chilli too.

Vegan Lentil Mulligatawny

Yield: 8 cups



1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
6 1/4 cups water, divided
1 sweet potato, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup basmati rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 tomato, diced
Small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Ground cumin


  1. Heat oil, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger and salt in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir until the onions start to soften. Mix together curry powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric with 1/4 cup of water, and add it to the pot. Cook and stir until the water evaporates and the spices start to stick to the pan.
  2. Add sweet potato, bell pepper, lentils, rice and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk and tomato, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in cilantro, lime juice and salt. Garnish with a pinch of ground cumin.

Vegan Mulligatawny Lentil Soup Recipe Tips

Although you’ll be tempted to eat this soup the second it’s done, trust me wait a few minutes for it to cool. Some of the flavours are delicate and come through better when the soup isn’t piping hot.

I used Madras curry powder because I like the heat it has, but you can use whichever curry powder you have on hand.

There are so many more things you can add to this recipe: homemade vegetable stock in place of water, a little mango chutney or grated apple for fragrance and sweetness, shredded unsweetened coconut for texture, and a green chilli for throat-tingling heat.

Lime juice is added at the very end because of its delicate flavour; any sooner and you’ll simmer the flavour away.

The pinch of ground cumin adds a sweet note that tickles your taste buds as you bring each spoonful up to your mouth.

This recipe only uses half a can of coconut milk; the remaining coconut milk can be placed in a container in the freezer for the next time you make this soup.

If you love this lentil soup, here’s another one – Chickpea Curry Soup