Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

$3.55 recipe / $0.59 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.73 from 91 votes
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Hooray for easy soups! This Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup is the type of recipe that saves the day—very few ingredients, fast, and really delicious. Oh yeah, and did I mention how incredibly inexpensive it is?? Seriously, just pennies per bowl. It’s also freezer-friendly, super healthy, just happens to be vegan-friendly, and you can have fun customizing the toppings. It basically checks all my boxes! Bookmark this recipe for later because I promise it will become part of your regular rotation.

Originally posted 2-4-2016, updated 9-29-2021.

Four bowls of curried red lentil and pumpkin soup with bread and leaves scattered around the bowls

Have Fun with the Toppings

I just LOVE any meal where I can add toppings and this pumpkin soup is the perfect blank slate. Not that it’s not awesome on its own, it’s just that the flavors in this lentil and pumpkin soup are versatile and can handle being paired with all sorts of add-ins. So here are some ideas: go creamy with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, spice it up with a few red pepper flakes or sriracha, toss in some crunchy pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or croutons, or sprinkle on a few sprigs of fresh cilantro. Or hey, DO THEM ALL. I won’t judge.

Can I Substitute the Pumpkin?

If you don’t have canned pumpkin, you can use about a cup and a half of mashed sweet potato or butternut squash in its place. Just make sure they’re really soft and well-mashed so there is no stringiness in the final soup. Oh, and speaking of that, you can take an immersion blender to the finished soup for a super silky finish if you’d like. Me? I prefer to have a little texture from the lentils.

Can I Use Brown or Green Lentils for Pumpkin Soup?

While you can use a different type of lentil, it will definitely change the outcome of the soup. Red or yellow lentils are best for this soup because of their mild flavor and the fact that they break down quickly when cooked, giving the soup a nice thick consistency (like split pea soup). A brown or green lentil will give the soup a much earthier flavor and have a chunkier texture.

What Kind of Curry Powder Do You Use?

I’m not very picky about curry powder and haven’t come across one yet that I don’t like. I do prefer to use mild curry powder for this soup, that way I can adjust the heat by adding my own cayenne pepper if I want. One brand that I’ve enjoyed is Sharwood’s mild curry powder. Or you can try making your own curry powder using this recipe for Easy Homemade Curry Powder from Spiceitupp.com.

close up of a ladle full of lentil and pumpkin soup

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Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

4.73 from 91 votes
This Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup is super fast and easy, and will keep you warm from the inside out on chilly fall evenings!
A spoonful of lentil and pumpkin soup being lifted from the bowl
Servings 6 1.33 cups each
Prep 10 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion ($0.31)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger ($0.10)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder ($0.30)
  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin purée ($1.05)
  • 1 cup dry red lentils ($0.67)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.78)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Dice the onion, mince the garlic, and grate the ginger. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger to a large pot with the olive oil and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the curry powder and continue to sauté for about a minute more.
  • Next, add the pumpkin purée, lentils, and vegetable broth. Stir to combine.
  • Place a lid on the pot and bring the soup up to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  • Finally, taste the soup and add salt to taste (about ½ tsp). Serve hot with bread for dipping!

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Equipment

Nutrition

Serving: 1.33cupsCalories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 9gFat: 3gSodium: 1141mgFiber: 12g
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Love savory pumpkin recipes? You should also try our Spicy Coconut and Pumpkin Soup, Chipotle Pumpkin Pasta, or Easy Pumpkin Soup.

A spoonful of lentil and pumpkin soup being lifted from the bowl

How to Make Curried Red Lentil and Pumpkin Soup – Step by Step Photos

Onion, garlic, ginger, and oil in the pot

Dice one yellow onion, mince two cloves of garlic, and grate about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger (I use a small-holed cheese grater). Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.

curry powder being added to the soup pot

Add one tablespoon curry powder to the sautéed vegetables and continue to sauté for one minute more.

pumpkin, lentils, and broth added to the soup pot

Next add 1 cup uncooked red lentils, 1 15oz. can of pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling), and 6 cups vegetable broth. Stir to combine the ingredients.

cooked lentil and pumpkin soup in the pot with a spoon

Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring the soup up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the lentils should be broken down and tender, resulting in a thickened soup.

Finished lentil and pumpkin soup in a pot with a ladle

Give the soup a taste and then add salt. Salt is what is really going to make the flavors pot, so don’t skip it! The amount of salt you’ll need will ultimately depend on the salt content of the broth you used, but I added about a ½ teaspoon of salt.

Four bowls of red lentil and pumpkin soup

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  1. Easy and delicious. I cut the recipe in half as I had half a can of pumpkin, worked out fine. Served over basmati rice.

  2. This is perfect fall soup! We’ve made it several times & love it! We add a little lime for brightness.

    I need help though – sometimes, ok, twice, my soups taste a little metallic. I’m using a Dutch Oven & wood or silicone spoons. The 1st time I decided it was the tomatoes but there’s no tomatoes in this soup. Can I fix it to remove the taste & why is this happening?

    1. The only thing I can think of is that you’re cooking in aluminum or unseasoned cast iron. When acidic ingredients are cooked in “reactive” pans, like aluminum or unseasoned cast iron, trace amounts of the metal’s molecules loosen and leach into the food, giving it slightly metallic flavors. XOXO -Monti

  3. Love this recipe! The first time I made it I increased the spices, and added coconut milk and lemon juice at the end, which I felt were great add-ons. The next time I make it I’m also going to try adding carrots, because I wanted some more variety of texture the first time.

  4. I absolutely adore this recipe. It’s so delicious and even my 2 year old will eat it if she’s got homemade bread to dip in it. :)

    I do want to make this for a potluck. Would I be able to saute the onion, garlic, and ginger – then curry powder – and add all of that plus the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker and cook it for like 4-5 hours until we’re ready to eat lunch?

    1. Hi Sarah! I don’t recommend cooking red lentils for 4 to 5 hours, even in a slow cooker. But you have the right idea. Try making all of it, and don’t bring it to a boil. Instead, leave it in your fridge until an hour or so before you want to plate it. Then add it to your slow cooker. XOXO -Monti

  5. So simple and so very delicious.

    I’ve been browsing vegan Whole Foods/Plant-based no oil added cookbooks and have been disappointed in the last three recipes I tried.

    Needing a win, I decided to try this recipe and just omit the oil. I added grated turmeric root with the ginger root and 6 handfuls of baby kale at the very end, because it was in the fridge and needed to be used asap.

    It was a huge hit! Delicious, filling, quick, inexpensive, and most importantly, something I’ll be making over and over again.