Kale & Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

Lentil & Kale Soup with Indian Flavors

Snowed in? Lovely, no doubt, but maybe not so much if you have to be at work this morning, and must shovel your way out in sub-zero, real-feel temps.

Brrrr…view from my window - there's a lot to shovel.

Brrrr…view from my window – there’s a lot to shovel.

Here’s a soup I made – mostly from pantry staples. It’s subcontinent heat soothes my tired winter soul, while the nourishment from the lentils, kale and spices provides a welcome antidote from my overdose of fa-la-la-la-la I’m packing away with the ornaments.

You may not have access to the seasonings I used in the following recipe, but not to worry. Your soup will be delicious with whatever curry seasonings you can devise. According to the label on my ajwain seed bottle, it is “… a traditional addition to many Indian and Pakistani dishes. Shaped like a celery seed, ajwain is especially useful in vegetarian lentil and bean dishes, party as a flavoring, party because ajwain has the ability to temper the effects of a legume based diet.” Good to know!

Lentil soups are the easiest soups to make and thicken to a lovely consistency. Really, all you need are a few aromatics –  a carrot, onion, perhaps a stalk of celery – water or stock, lentils, and pantry spices and 40 minutes later you’ve a scratch-made, nourishing soup. Potatoes or eggplant on hand? Dice ’em up and toss ’em into the brew. I enjoy the cooling counterpoint of a dollop of plain Greek yogurt spooned over the soup before eating.

Click here for my favorite collection of soup recipes handy to have when hunger taps the frosty panes.

Recipe: Lentil & Kale Soup with Indian Flavors


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 heaping tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon ajwain (see above notes)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 5-7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 cups red or brown lentils, washed
  • 8-10 cups packed kale, sliced into ribbons
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, optional
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Plain yogurt, optional


  1. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Stir in onion, and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook until onion softens, about 8 minutes stirring occasionally, then stir in ginger, curry, cumin seeds, ajwain and garlic. Cook an additional minute then add tomatoes and 5 cups of the stock.
  2. Stir in lentils then bring to a boil; reduce to medium-low heat and cook, stirring every 5 minutes, 15 minutes. Stir in kale and additional stock if soup is very thick; continue cooking an additional 30 minutes, or until kale is tender and lentils are very tender, incorporated into the liquid. (Note that in the last 10 minutes of cooking time, it’s important to stir often so the bottom does not burn.)
  3. Season to taste with kosher salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in cilantro, if using, and garnish with a dollop of yogurt, if using.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.



More Recipes Filed Under "All Soups"

10 Responses to Kale & Lentil Soup with Indian Flavors

  1. Peggy this looks absolutely delicious, and perfect for a day like this! Thanks for sharing and stay warm!

    • Peggy says:

      You too, Vicki! My husband enlightened me to the fact it’s 7 degrees out there right now, but the temps will be dropping through the day. I guess I’ll choose now to start digging! Stay safe! Peggy

      • jean reynolds says:

        I made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit! Used it as a small soup starter with yogurt on top, and served Cooking Light’s Chicken Biryani for main course. What a great combo. We love so many of your recipies and this will be added to the collection. THANKS!

        • Peggy says:

          Hi Jean – thanks for the feedback and delighted you enjoyed the soup. It would be fantastic with Chicken Biryani. My friend from India shared her recipe (in my search engine) and I’m looking forward to checking out Cooking Light’s version. Thanks for the tip! Peggy

  2. Nick Roumel says:

    Hello Peggy, this recipe looks lovely and I want to try it today! Unfortunately, while my pantry staples include mahlab, garam masala, ras el hamout, and kalanji, they do not include ajwain! What would you suggest for a substitute? I’ve read thyme or thyme/oregano.

    • Peggy says:

      Hi Nick – Your source was correct. I’m sniffing it now and it smells like a very pungent cross between thyme and oregano – perhaps more tilted into the thyme arena but the aroma is more intense. Your collection sounds lovely – I’m sure you’ll sniff, add and taste until the flavor profile will be a unique Roumel Masala! Enjoy!

      • Nick Roumel says:

        Hi Peggy, thanks for the quick response! One more question – the ingredients call for black cumin seeds (which I interpret as nigella sativa, the black seeds that look like sesame seeds, sometimes called kalanji or chernuska). However, your directions do not refer to black cumin seeds, but instead black mustard seeds, which are not in the ingredient list, and something different?

        Sorry – I’m not usually this high maintenance 🙂

        • Peggy says:

          Ha ha! Thanks for that catch, Nick! I used black CUMIN seeds but I had mustard on the brain (which would not be bad!) Thanks for the catch and I’ll make the change.

          • Nick Roumel says:

            I made the soup today, it was delicious. With the substitutions I noted, for ajwain and black mustard seeds instead of black cumin! Added a finely diced sweet potato with the lentils and a few squirts of lemon at the end (love lemon with both lentil and kale). Thank you so much for this recipe, Peggy. I have a fussy vegan at home (whoops – redundancy) and she will love this.

          • Peggy says:

            The addition of diced sweet potatoes is masterful! Bravo and thanks for your input; a lentil soup to be loved!

I welcome your comments!(This site was recently transferred but, unfortunately, I did not have privileges to include past comments. I would love to see a conversation started!)

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