overhead shot of potato soup in several bowls topped with crispy lentils

South Indian-Inspired Potato Soup with Crispy Lentils

The best cozy and warming weeknight dinner! This South Indian-Inspired Potato Soup is topped with crispy lentils and is easily vegan.

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overhead shot of potato soup in several bowls topped with crispy lentils

This South Indian-Inspired Potato Soup with Crispy Lentils is a dream come true. No, seriously. I’ve been mulling over how to make this soup a reality since a life-changing dining experience at Paper Dosa in Santa Fe, New Mexico (seriously, if you ever get the chance, GO). I ordered the Classic Masala Dosa, which had a perfectly spiced potato filling. Basically, I turned that potato filling into a soup and it’s pretty amazing. Of course, I feel the need to make my standard disclaimer that this recipe is by no means authentic. I am simply doing my best to celebrate South-Indian flavors as a jumping off point to put my own little spin on it.

zoomed in shot of potato soup to show texture

Background on Aloo Masala

The traditional South Indian name for this delectable potato situation is Aloo Masala. It is most often made by boiling potatoes and combining them with a sautéed mixture of onions, chilies, spices, and a few other ingredients. It’s also known as Dosa Aloo because it is commonly stuffed into a dosa, a thin pancake made of fermented rice and lentil batter. Potatoes are a staple of Indian cuisine dating back to the 16th century, so this dish has been around for a while. If you would like to know more about aloo masala, check out this explainer and recipe. For the complicated and rich history of dosas, check out this full rundown.

soup in bowl topped with crispy lentils

South-Indian Inspired Potato Soup Ingredients

Lentils: I used a can of lentils because I’m lazy, but you could certainly cook your own ahead of time!

Onion and Garlic Powder: To give those crispy lentils a lil’ kick of flavor.

Ghee: Butter that’s been clarified to remove the milk solids. It’s commonly used in Indian cooking, but feel free to use vegan butter or oil to keep this recipe vegan!

Potatoes: I recommend using gold potatoes for best results, as they’re creamier than other varieties.

Onion and Garlic: I’ll probably never make a soup without onion and garlic, but don’t quote me on that.

Cashews: For a bit of creaminess! Be sure to use raw and unsalted cashews for best results.

Mustard and Cumin Seeds: Using the whole seeds is most traditional, but if you can’t find them, ground mustard and cumin is fine. I was able to find them easily at my local spice shop.

Turmeric and Ginger: Two more spices commonly used in Indian cuisine.

Red Pepper Flakes: Aloo Masala is traditionally made with fresh chilies, but I ultimately chose this pantry staple to give the soup a bit of a kick.

Veggie Broth: To get this soup to the right consistency.

Lemon Juice: To brighten up the entire flavor of the soup. I promise you won’t taste the lemon!

zoomed out overhead shot of soup in several bowls

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More Amazing Soups

overhead shot of south Indian-inspired potato soup in a bowl topped with crispy lentils
soup in bowl topped with crispy lentils

South Indian-Inspired Potato Soup with Crispy Lentils

The best cozy and warming weeknight dinner! This South Indian-Inspired Potato Soup is topped with crispy lentils and is easily vegan.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Cutting Board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Baking Sheet
  • parchment paper
  • Large pot or Dutch oven
  • High-Powered Blender

Ingredients
  

For the Crispy Lentils

  • 1 15-oz can brown or green lentils (or about 1 cup cooked lentils) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp ghee (or sub vegan butter or coconut oil)
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt

For the Soup

  • 2 tbsp ghee (or sub vegan butter or coconut oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (or sub ½ tsp ground mustard)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (or sub ½ tsp ground cumin)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 pounds gold potatoes peeled and quartered
  • 1 quart low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • juice of one lemon

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine lentils with ghee, onion powder, garlic powder, and sea salt until well-distributed. Spread evenly on baking sheet so they don't touch and are able to crisp up. Bake for 20 minutes or until the lentils are crispy. (These will probably finish roasting before the soup is done–simply set to the side until ready to serve!)
  • Heat ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until melted. Add onion, garlic, and cashews and sauté 5-8 minutes, or until onions are translucent and softened. Add sea salt, mustard seeds (or ground mustard), cumin seeds (or ground cumin), turmeric, red pepper flakes, and ginger and allow to mingle with the veggies for 1-3 minutes.
  • Add potatoes, vegetable broth, and water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
  • Carefully transfer soup mixture to a high-powered blender and blend on high for 1-2 minutes, or until it's completely smooth and creamy. Fold in lemon juice and portion into individual bowls topped with the crispy lentils.

Notes

Storage: Soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days. Crispy lentils should be stored separately at room temperature for up to a week.
Freezing: If you would like to freeze the soup, portion completely cooled soup into airtight bags or containers, removing as much air as possible. It should keep for up to 3 months.
To make vegan: Use vegan butter or coconut oil in place of ghee.
Keyword cashews, dairy-free, gluten free, lentils, potato soup, turmeric, vegan, vegetarian

Photography by Hope Agresti

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