Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes
This Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and ground chicken is easy to make in one pot and full of aromatic Thai red curry flavors and warming spices. It’s wholesome and so satisfying and on a cold winter day. It’s also customizable with your favorite protein and veggies and gluten-free and dairy-free.
Warming, cozy, easy to make and SO incredibly flavorful! This Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and ground chicken is so satisfying on any night of the week. It’s especially good on cold winter days and guaranteed to warm up your insides.
We have here:
- Red lentils. They break down easily and give the soup a lovely velvety consistency.
- Ground chicken. Not only does the meat add extra protein, it also makes this soup wonderfully filling too.
- Hearty and healthy veggies. Sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and baby spinach bringing their A-game!
- Aromatic Thai red curry paste and warming spices. The curry paste packs a punch of spice and flavor and sets this soup apart from other red lentil soups!
- Thai sweet basil. An intoxicating fragrant herb that takes this soup up a whole other level when added at the end!
It’s super easy to make in one pot and requires minimal active cooking time. It’s also loaded with protein from the chicken and red lentils, high in fiber from the sweet potatoes and lentils, and vitamin A, C, and potassium and magnesium too!
Leftovers taste even more amazing as the flavors intensify over time. This soup is a meal prep dream and freezer-friendly to boot!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy. Red split lentils cook quicker than whole lentils and this soup only takes about 30 minutes to cook. It’s also easy to make thanks to using store-bought red curry paste and is a mostly dump-into-pot-and-simmer type of recipe.
- One pot. All you need is a large Dutch oven or stockpot.
- Freezer-friendly. You can make a large batch and freeze individual portions to enjoy all winter long.
- Nutritious and DELICIOUS! It’s full of fiber and protein and makes for a hearty, warming, and satisfying meal. It also boasts the most aromatic flavors and packs a punch thanks to Thai red curry paste and warming spices.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Red Split Lentils: Red split lentils are orange-reddish in color. They take a shorter time to cook than whole green or brown lentils because the husks have been removed. They break down easily in about 20 minutes and give the soup a lovely thick and creamy texture. They also have a delicious flavor with a slight hint of nuttiness.
- Ground Chicken: For convenience and ease. You get the extra protein and flavor without having to chop up or shred any whole cuts of chicken.
- Veggies: Red onion (or you could use a white or yellow onion), carrots, and sweet potatoes (any kind you like). We also have baby spinach to add some greenery to this hearty soup. You could use baby kale or chopped lacinato kale instead if you like.
- Aromatics: Garlic and fresh red chilies. I’ve used Thai Bird’s Eye chilies, but any small hot red chilies will work. Adjust the quantity of chilies to taste based on your heat level preference.
- Thai Red Curry Paste: I always use Mae Ploy Thai red curry paste in my home because I adore its authentic and spicy flavor. Other great authentic tasting Thai curry paste brands are Maesri and Nam Jai. If you’re after a milder flavor, Thai Kitchen and De Siam brand red curry pastes are good options. You can find Thai red curry paste in most large mainstream supermarkets, Asian and Thai grocery stores, or purchase it online.
- Thai Sweet Basil Leaves: This type of basil is known as ‘horapa’ in Thai and has a unique fragrant aroma and sweet anise-like flavor. It’s delicious in Thai curries like Thai panang chicken curry and choo chee salmon curry, but also in stir-fries such as Thai eggplant noodles, Thai eggplant stir-fry, and also Thai red curry fried rice! It adds a beautiful flavor to this Thai red curry lentil soup when added at the end. Look for it in a Thai specialty ingredients store or Asian supermarket. Alternatively, use regular Italian basil in a pinch.
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth: Or if using regular salted chicken broth or stock, adjust the amount of kosher salt to taste.
- Spices and Seasonings: We have a beautiful combination of everyday seasonings and warming spices to flavor the soup (and make your home smell amazing!). Kosher salt (use half the amount if using iodized table salt), black pepper, ground cumin, coriander powder, turmeric powder, ground cinnamon, ground cayenne and Thai chili powder for heat. The Thai chili powder is completely optional but can be added for extra heat. Substitute with crushed red pepper flakes if needed.
- To Serve (optional): Top off your bowl with chopped coriander (cilantro), more Thai sweet basil leaves, Greek style or regular yogurt, a drizzle of coconut milk, squeeze of fresh lime juice from a wedge. You can also serve it with steamed white or brown rice, crusty bread, or naan for a heartier meal.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes
1. Cook the chicken. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, cook the chicken in a little oil until just cooked through. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside.
2. Sauté the veggies and aromatics. Add a little more oil to the pot and sauté the red onion, carrots and sweet potatoes until slightly soften. Then add the garlic and red chilies and sauté to combine until fragrant.
3. Add the chicken and curry paste. Stir-fry to combine until the paste has fully broken down and is fragrant.
4. Build the soup. Add the red split lentils, chicken broth, water, and stir in all of the spices and seasonings. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
5. Simmer. Lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have softened and the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender.
6. Stir in the greens. Switch off the heat and stir in the baby spinach and Thai sweet basil leaves until just wilted.
Serve! Divide evenly into bowls. Top with chopped coriander, Thai sweet basil leaves, and a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of coconut milk if desired. Serve immediately with steamed rice or crusty bread or naan for dunking and lime wedges for squeezing on the side.
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Make it milder. Use 2 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste and less of (or omit) the fresh red chilies. You can always stir in more curry paste later after simmering if you feel it needs more flavor. Use a milder Thai red curry paste such as Thai Kitchen or De Siam brand if you are extra sensitive to heat. Omit the ground cayenne and Thai chili powder too.
- Combine all the spices and seasonings before you start cooking. Either in a small bowl or plate before you switch on the stove. It’ll make it easy to dump all of them into the pot at one time during cooking.
- Make a double batch to freeze. This red lentil soup is freezer-friendly and I recommend making a double batch so that you can freeze individual portions to enjoy all winter long.
Red lentils are whole lentils, while split lentils have had their outer skin removed so that they split in half naturally. Split lentils have a shorter cooking time. For this particular recipe, whole red lentils can be used instead and the same cooking time applies. Just note that whole red lentils will not disintegrate as much as red split lentils.
Yes! This red lentil soup freezes beautifully. Once completely cool, transfer to freezer-friendly containers with a lid. Wrap in a sheet of aluminum foil for extra protection against freezer burn and freeze for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing servings in small individual containers so that you thaw only what you need. Plan a day in advance for when you want to have the soup again and thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, or until hot throughout. Then garnish as desired and serve.
I recommend serving with some crusty bread or naan for dunking or steamed white, brown, or coriander lime rice. You can also serve with a simple side salad.
Look for red lentils in the dried beans and lentils section which is usually near the soups and grains aisle.
- Add coconut milk. To make it creamy and still keep it dairy-free, stir in a 400 grams/14 ounce can of coconut milk after simmering and just before adding the baby spinach and Thai sweet basil leaves.
- Add a can of tomatoes or tomato paste. If you’d like the lentil soup to have a touch of tomato flavor, add a can of diced tomatoes or two tablespoons of double concentrated tomato paste.
- Use different veggies. If you’re not a fan of sweet potatoes and carrots, use any other type of potatoes you love, pumpkin, butternut squash, green beans, green peas, celery, or turnips. Switch out the baby spinach for baby kale instead.
- Make it vegetarian. Use a plant-based ground meat substitute such as Beyond Beef, OmniPork, Impossible Meat, or Quorn Meatless Grounds. Also, use a vegetarian Thai red curry paste (without any shrimp paste) and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
- Use a different ground meat. Lean ground beef, turkey, sausage or pork would taste great.
- Use shredded leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken. Skip the ground chicken and add cooked leftover shredded chicken or rotisserie chicken to the pot after simmering the broth for 10 minutes. You’ll need about 2.5 cups of shredded chicken.
More Thai Soups and Curries
- Thai Spicy Pork Rib Soup
- Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Milk Chicken Soup)
- Thai Glass Noodle Soup
- Thai Massaman Chicken Curry
- Choo Chee Salmon Curry
- Or browse the entire Thai recipes collection.
More Warming Soups
- Creamy Chicken Mushroom Rice Soup
- Creamy Rosé Tortellini Soup
- Hearty Pumpkin Chicken Soup
- Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Kicked Up Creamy Clam Chowder
- Or browse the entire Soups & Chowders recipe collection.
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Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes
Easy to make in one pot and full of aromatic Thai red curry flavors and warming spices, this Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and ground chicken is hearty, satisfying and SO delicious!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Thai-inspired
- 1 and ¾ cups / 250 grams Red Split Lentils
- 1 medium Red Onion – finely chopped
- 6 Garlic cloves – minced
- 2–16 fresh Red Chilies (Thai Bird’s Eye or any other hot red chilies – note 1), to taste – finely chopped
- 2 medium Carrots (about 12–13 ounces / 360 grams) – peeled, diced
- 2 medium Sweet Potatoes (about 17–18 ounces/ 500 grams) – peeled, diced
- 2.5 cups Baby Spinach (or baby kale) – washed
- 1 cup Thai Sweet Basil Leaves – rinsed, pat-dried
- 2.5 TBLS Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored oil)
- 1 pounds / 454 grams Ground Chicken
- 2–4 TBLS Thai Red Curry Paste (note 2)
- 4 cups / 946ml Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 2 cups / 473ml Water
- 1.5 TSP Kosher Salt, more or less to taste
- 1.5 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
- 1 TSP ground Cumin
- 1 TSP Coriander Powder
- 1 TSP Turmeric Powder
- ½ – 1 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
- ½ – 1 TSP Thai Chili Powder (optional), to taste
- ½ TSP ground Cinnamon
- To Serve (optional): Chopped coriander (cilantro), Thai sweet basil leaves, Greek style or regular yogurt, drizzle of coconut milk, steamed white or brown rice, crusty bread, naan, lime wedges for squeezing, etc.
- Prepare the ingredients: Place the red split lentils in a fine mesh strainer and pick through for stones and sticks. Rinse well under cold water from the sink and set aside. Chop the red onion, garlic, red chilies, carrots and sweet potatoes as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section. Wash the baby spinach. Pick the Thai sweet basil leaves off the stems (if needed and not already), then wash, pat-dry and set aside.
For the Thai Red Curry Lentil Soup:
- Cook the chicken: Heat 1.5 tablespoons canola oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon until just cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a clean bowl.
- Sauté the veggies: Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, carrots and sweet potatoes and sauté for 4-5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic and red chilies and sauté to combine for another minute until fragrant.
- Add the chicken and curry paste: Add the ground chicken back into the pot and Thai red curry paste. Stir-fry to combine until the paste has fully broken down and is fragrant – about 1 minute.
- Build the soup: Add the red split lentils, chicken broth, water, and all of the spices and seasonings – the remaining 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, ground cumin, coriander powder, turmeric powder, ground cayenne, ground cinnamon and Thai chili powder (if using). Stir to combine and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Simmer: Lower the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils have softened and the carrots and sweet potatoes are tender. (You can test for doneness by piercing them with a fork.) Uncover and taste the soup. Add more kosher salt or any of the other seasonings if needed.
- Stir in the greens: Switch off the heat and stir in the baby spinach and Thai sweet basil leaves until just wilted.
- To Serve: Divide evenly into bowls and top with chopped coriander, Thai sweet basil leaves, and a dollop of yogurt or drizzle of coconut milk if desired. Serve immediately with steamed rice, or naan or crusty bread for dunking and lime wedges for squeezing on the side.
- Fresh Red Chilies: Feel free to use less or omit for a milder soup.
- Thai Red Curry Paste: I use Mae Ploy Thai red curry paste in my home because I adore its authentic and spicier flavor. Other great authentic tasting Thai curry paste brands are Maesri and Nam Jai. If you’re after a milder flavor, Thai Kitchen and De Siam brand are good options. Start with 2 tablespoons if you are sensitive to heat and stir in more later if you like after simmering and tasting the soup. You can find it in packets, tubs, and cans in most large mainstream supermarkets, Asian and Thai grocery stores, or purchase it online.
- Storing and leftovers. Leftovers can be stored in airtight sealed containers in the fridge for 4- 5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout. Garnish as desired and serve.
- To freeze and reheat: Once completely cool, transfer to freezer-friendly containers with a lid. Wrap in a sheet of aluminum foil for extra protection against freezer burn and freeze for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing servings in small individual containers so that you thaw only what you need. Plan a day in advance for when you want to have the soup again and thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, stirring once in between, until hot throughout. Then garnish as desired and serve.
- See ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize this soup.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 435
- Sugar: 8.3g
- Sodium: 616.5mg
- Fat: 15.4g
- Saturated Fat: 2.8g
- Unsaturated Fat: 9.7g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 50g
- Fiber: 8.7g
- Protein: 27g
- Cholesterol: 67.1mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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