Thai Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup

At a recent demonstration on plant-based diets, I spoke on the topic of stocking an Asian-vegan pantry. I spoke about everything from the ingredients that are great to have on hand to whip up quick weeknight meals, how to use ingredients such as green jackfruit, and how to boil rice noodles so that they're not gummy.

And, about 40 minutes before the session began, I started making this Thai Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup. The whole time, employees at the market hosting the meet-up were peeking in through the culinary class windows because it smelled awesome! That always makes me happy.

The soup was a hit — it always is a great part of a meal whenever I serve it to friends and family. It's also perfect for this time of year, when it's a little dreary, cold and rainy outside. It's not your typical sweet butternut squash soup. Instead, this recipe has a kick to it, with the Thai red curry paste and lime leaves. And, for a final silky creaminess, I stir in a can of full-fat coconut milk at the end. Don't use light coconut milk – it's too watery.

Thai Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup

Recipe by Tram Le, MS, RD


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1½ pounds butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1¼ cups red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cubes no-chicken bouillon cubes or vegetable bouillon
  • 1½ teaspoons crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 to 3 leaves lime leaves, optional
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
  • Crushed red chili flakes, cilantro, black pepper or fried shallots, for garnish


  1. In a soup pot over medium-low heat, add the coconut oil. When it is hot, add onions and stir. Sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and add butternut squash, lentils, Thai red curry paste, bouillon cubes, crushed red chili flakes, lime leaves (if using) and kosher salt. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes, making sure to break up the bouillon and incorporate all ingredients.
  3. Add water, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow soup to boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let the soup simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Take the lid off the soup and stir in the coconut milk. Season to taste and serve, garnished with additional crushed red pepper, black pepper, cilantro or fried shallots. Serves 8.
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Tram Le
Tram Le, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian living in Annapolis. Read her blog, This Veg Life, and follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.