Garam Masala Lentil or Yellow Split Pea Soup with Coconut Milk

(The brown lentil version)

My husband and I have always really enjoyed Indian food (from India, that is). In fact, our wedding rehearsal dinner was at an Indian restaurant. While some of our guests felt like they were having an out of this world food experience (or at least, out of country!), we felt right at home among the curries, the lentil soups, the fried samosa, and the delicious naan bread. Definitely one of our favorite foods.

So I was surprised with myself that I had never prepared a dish using the spice combination referred to as Garam Masala. What was I waiting for? Garam Masala, like a lot of premixed curry powders have a wide range of flavor combinations. One garam masala combination is not necessarily more authentic than another one because it varies greatly in India itself. I am looking forward to trying some other garam masala combinations, but I must say that I am sold on the one below. It is a delicious blend of warming spices, like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cardamom (I am currently in love with cardamom, by the way. It has incredible flavor).

The result is the perfect soup for a cold fall night. It’s rich and creamy from the coconut milk, the pureed lentil and rice combination form a wonderful filling texture, and the spices literally warm and soothe you from the chilly weather. Another plus? It’s both easy and frugal to make! To make it even more frugal, I have doubled the recipe, and kept the amounts of coconut oil and coconut milk the same. Not quite as rich, but still very delicious.

We have enjoyed this soup many times now, and hope you enjoy it as well.

Garam Masala Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk, adapted from James Peterson’s, Splendid Soups-Serves 8

You will notice that I list three choices of legumes. I have listed in order of my preference. Each has it own unique taste. The yellow split pea soup is a delicious pea soup, the red lentils have wonderful texture and the brown lentils are more meaty (and cheap).
The color is much prettier with red lentils or the yellow split peas.

1 medium to large size onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil, ghee, or butter
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup of red lentils, yellow split peas, or brown lentils, rinsed and soaked overnight *
1 cup of brown rice
8 cups of water
1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
Sea Salt

1/4 cup of coconut oil or ghee
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 freshly ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

*Lentils are low in phytic acid, so soaking isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does help make the lentils more digestible. Without the soaking, this is a great “last minute” soup. If you decide to use the yellow peas, make sure to soak.

1- In a large pot over medium heat cook the onions and turmeric for about 5 minutes in the coconut oil, and then add the garlic. Cook for a total of about ten minutes, or until the onions are soft and turn translucent.

2-Add the water, lentils and rice to the pot and bring to a simmer. Turn down low, and cook until the lentils and rice are cooked and very soft (about 45 minutes).

3-Using your handy immersion blender, blend to desired consistency (we like it mostly pureed, but with some texture left). Or use your regular blender or food mill.

4-Make the tadka by melting the coconut oil or ghee in a small saucepan. Add the spices and stir until you can smell the spices drifting upwards to you. Don’t burn! Whisk into the soup.

5-Add the coconut milk, and bring back to a simmer, adding salt to taste, and serve. Enjoy!

The following two tabs change content below.
I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

Latest posts by KimiHarris (see all)


  1. Tara says

    Have you been able to find a coconut milk without the BPA in the lining? I love coconut milk, but have dropped it from our diets pending a canned-free product. Have you ever made your own?

  2. Anneatheart says


    I have been trying very hard to lose weight.While I follow Nourishing Traditions and use good fats, I realize I may be eating too much to actually lose. How would I figure out how much fat I need each day?

    Lately I’ve been taking in plenty of cream, however it’s not organic or raw. (I use it in coffee and soups) Coconut oil and butter are the main fats, and some days I don’t eat much, but others I do depending on what we are having that day.

    The book doesn’t restrict fat intake, and I have not really gained weight, so for maintenance it’s good. Just wondering if you knew anything about it…I’m gonna check out the Weston A. Price site now and see what I can find. Thanks.


  3. Maria says

    Ooooh, this sounds delicious! I love Indian food!
    Thank you for such a wonderful blog, with easy recipes! I find it very helpful when planning the weeks meals for my family!

  4. Kimi Harris says

    I posted some other options for coconut milk in an earlier post that could be helpful.

    A few of those options are not canned.

    But I haven’t tried making my own yet….it is hard to find organic coconuts in my area and they would be pretty spendy!

    Anna at Heart,

    Have you read Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig? This book gives a lot of practical help (like giving menu plans,and a very specific plan for weight loss and showing calorie counts on recipes etc). It would also help you know how much fat to consume.

    I am glad that it is maintaining your weight, though! That is the first step. 🙂

    I am so glad that you find it helpful. 🙂 Thanks!

  5. glutenfreeforgood says

    I make something very similar to this recipe of yours, but use chana dal beans and garam masala. It’s wonderful for people with diabetes or insulin resistance. Plus, it tastes so good!
    Have a nice weekend!

  6. josh says

    i made this with lentils, short grain brown rice, and a little quinoa, but it was really bland. i added some extra garlic (granules) and some patak’s garam masala paste, but there was still something missing. it was really filling, though, so i’d give it 3.5/5.

  7. Mary says

    This soup was very yummy and easy!! I used homemade chicken broth in place of the water for added nutrition. Thanks for the recipe! I am making it again!!

  8. Shawna says


    I can’t wait to try this. My husband is half Indian and half Irish French Canadian and we love Indian food.
    We have 2 little girls with a combination of 16 food allergies. Gluten, dairy, eggs, honey, cane sugar, peanuts, almonds, hazlenuts, sesame seeds, bananas, cranberries, lamb, squash, asparagus, radish.
    It’s very stressfull nurishing them the way they deserve to be nurished.
    I really appreciate your lovely blog. The recipes I can use are wonderful and I’m very gratefull to have stumbled onto your website…my girls are especially happy to have tried your icecream! I just ordered an excalibur dehydrator to make cereals,crackers… Have you ever tried anything like that?

    Anyway, thank you my dear!

  9. says

    This is currently cooking away on my stovetop. I made a bunch of sprouted lentils when I made the other sprouted lentil curry dish on your site. I’m interested to see if this will have an affect on the cook time.

    Using only coconut oil. I am using coconut cream concentrate in water in place of the coconut milk from a can.

    • says

      This went over so well! I actually was thinking I’d add more of the spices next time, but everyone else was completely contented and wanted seconds (and got them!). I used 4 cups of turkey stock plus 4 cups water.

      Oh, and my boyfriend said that it tasted nourishing. I didn’t even tell him that it was from nourishinggourmet!

  10. says

    This is my favorite Indian food, Marsala is the best.
    I like how you made the ingredients easy to find and make.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will definitely try this over the weekend.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *