Spicy Red Lentil, Coriander & Coconut Soup with Chicken Dumplings

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Preparation info

  • For


    Large Bowls
    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Sugar Club Cookbook

By Peter Gordon

Published 1997

  • About

In many ways this soup is almost a laksa, but the lack of noodles and the addition of red lentils make it something a little different. It’s delicious at any time of the year. In winter I make it thicker and heartier and in summer much hotter with chillies and serve it almost cool. The list of ingredients looks long, but it’s fairly simple to make. Fish can be used in place of chicken, or use neither and make it a vegetarian dish.


  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 1 leek, finely sliced and washed to remove grit
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 lime leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 300ml (11 fl oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1.4 litres ( pints) water
  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups fresh coriander leaves

Chicken Dumplings

  • 2 chicken suprêmes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce


To make the dumplings, remove any skin and bones from the chicken and cut each suprême into quarters. Put them in a food processer with the other five ingredients and process to a fine paste. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes before rolling into grape-sized balls.

For the soup, lightly toast the seeds in a dry pan on the stove until they begin to smoke and smell nice, then let them cool before grinding finely in a spice mill. Sauté the next eight ingredients for 5 minutes over a moderate heat until a golden colour. Add the ground seeds, coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally to stop the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the lentils are nearly done (about 20 minutes), then add the chicken dumplings and fish sauce. Boil gently until the dumplings are cooked (about 5 minutes) and taste for seasoning. Just before serving stir in the lime juice and coriander.