Lentil Soup with Caramalized Onions

I love soups and so does my family. Be it summer or winters, spring or fall we have soup for dinner at least twice to thrice a week. In fact, I had introduced Macher Jhol and Bhaat (Fish Curry and Rice) to Lil Sid as Fish Soup with Rice!

This winter too, we had soup almost every night of the week. Last month we had to tackle a lot of health issues like tooth infection, tooth extraction, toe injury, diarrhea and cold and flu in general. So soups were the easiest and the most nourishing meal that I could come up with.   

I prefer making chunky soups with lots of vegetables and meat, if we are having the soup as the main course, with breads or cracker on the sides. This winter, I made this Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions pretty often. Firstly, because its DELICIOUS and keeps you full for a long time. And secondly, lentils are sky-high in fiber, a good portion of which is the heart-healthy soluble type. When you are a diabetic, you should be extra careful about your heart health.

I came up with this recipe by combining two recipes from the Food NetworkRachael Ray's
Sausage, Kale, and Lentil Soup and Ingrid Hoffmann's Caramelized Onions and Lentil Rice. I liked the idea of topping lentils with caramelized onions. The red wine infused onions works magic with the smokiness of cumin and paprika in the soup to create a delightful blend of flavors . Though this soup looks that it required a lot of effort, its actually pretty easy to put together. You can cook the soup and caramelize onions simultaneously, in separate pans. The only effort needed is slicing a hell lot of onions and handling the tears that they bring.

Now for the Soup, you can use as many or as little vegetables that you wish or have in hand. I love to add celery and spinach to this soup, but was out on those today. I have used brown lentils (Kala Masoor Daal/ Chilk wala Masoor ki daal), but black or green lentils can be used too. Do not use Red Lentils (Masoor Daal) as it becomes mushy very easily and you'll get Dal instead of a soup. The original recipe used sausage, but I prefer using lean ground meat like ground turkey or chicken. Today I have used ground Turkey. This soup can easily turn vegetarian by omitting the ground meat and using vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock.

Recipe Snapshot: Lentil Soup with Caramelized Onions

Serves: 4 serving
(1 serving = 1 cup)

What I used:
For the Soup:
Dry Brown Lentil - 1 cup
Lean Ground Meat (Chicken/ Turkey/Pork/ Beef) - ½ lb
Garlic - 3-4 fat cloves, sliced
Onion - 1 medium sized, diced
Carrots - 1 large or 2 medium, diced
Peas - ½ cup (fresh or frozen)
Bay Leaf - 1 large leaf
Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder - ½ tsp
Smoky Paprika - ½ tsp
Chicken Stock - 6 cups (or 7 cups if you want a little thinner)
Cilantro/ Coriander leaves - A handful
Oil - 2 tsp + 1 tbsp

For the Caramelized Onions:
Yellow Onions - 2 large or 4-5 medium sized, finely sliced
Garlic - 2 cloves
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt - ½ tsp
Red Wine - ½ cup

What I did:
For the Soup:

1. In a large pot, heat 2 tsp of oil and brown the meat evenly. Season the meat with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. In the same pan add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and add the bay leaf, garlic, onions and carrots and saute till the onions become translucent. (2-3 mins)

3. Add the cumin powder, red chili powder and smoked Paprika and fry till the masala is cooked, adding splashes of water to prevent it from burning. (1 minute)

4. Add the lentils and the chicken stock and let it come to a boil. Bring it down to simmer and let it cook until the lentils are completely cooked. They should be tender but not mushy and still holding their shape. (20 mins to 30 minutes)

5. Half way down the simmering process add the browned meat. (after 10 minutes) When its nearly done add the peas and the cilantro. Adding the peas before will make them mushy.

6. Server with a tablespoon of Caramelized Onions and wholegrain cracker or bread.

For the Caramelized Onions:

1. Heat the oil over medium high heat and add the chopped onions and garlic. 

2. Add the salt and saute over medium low heat till the onions are cooked through. (20-25 minutes)

3. De-glaze the pan with some red wine and let the wine evaporate completely (5 minutes). Keep stirring the onions all the time till all the moisture is gone.

4. Serve on top of the Lentil Soup.

This soup is a meal in itself or you can have it with any crusty bread or even plain bread slices. Serve it with some buttered Garlic naan and it'll be a match made in heaven. This warm and hearty soup fills you up, makes you feel better and drives away the winter blues.

Diabetic Platter:
Lentils are sky-high in fiber, a good portion of which is the heart-healthy soluble type. They’re also a great low-fat replacement for animal protein, which is often full of saturated fat. Lentils are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Protein, Iron, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Folate and Manganese. Lentils are a winning combination of high-quality carbohydrates, lean protein, and soluble fiber that helps stabilize your body's blood-sugar levels and keeps hunger in check.


  1. Dear Progna
    How are you ? This dish is simply awesome ! Must make it as soon as possible. Dont have red wine, so wont be able to use immediately. But will caramelize onion as such or add a dash of sugar syrup..
    Noted the other dal option but will try with this one , and in the next lot will use a mixed dal of whole green ( mung), black ( kalai ) and whole musuri ...
    Bou is already excited !
    have a nice week

    1. Thank you so much kaku... your comment meas a lot to me... I am glad you like the recipe... If you want you can reduce the amount of chicken stock and make it into a dal like consistency. Goes great with buttered Garlic Naan!

  2. yeah I too was thinking this will not earn good result with masoor . I love all your soups ...so healthy and filling

    1. Thank you Deepa... Actually ei soup ta je kono Chilka wala dal diye banano jai... karon oogulo chot kore gole na... Emni Masoor dal diye o ami soup banai... summer soup with lime and garlic... hopefully konodin post korbo!

  3. wow. i really love soup. look at this

  4. wow. i really love soup. look at this. try http://www.baggout.com


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