Vegan dahl recipe: build muscle with this high-protein lentil soup that’s perfect for cold days

Posted by for Nutrition

Replace a cold protein shake in winter with this quick and simple vegan dahl recipe. This high-protein soup is a perfect post-workout meal since the lentils help to build muscle.

Guzzling down an ice-cold protein shake after a tough strength session? Not in this arctic weather, thank you. Instead, we’ve got our eyes on this easy-to-make (and most importantly warm) ‘lazy dahl’ that takes just 30 minutes to cook.

The lentils are packed with muscle-building protein and glycogen-restoring carbs – giving the old protein shake a run for its money. And let’s not forget the mild spices that make tucking into soup on a winter evening that much more satisfying. Studies show that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties reduce exercise-induced soreness and boost muscle recovery, while its key ingredient – curcumin – is activated by the heart-healthy fats in the creamy coconut milk. Now that sounds anything but lazy… 


½ teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon coriander seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 onion, peeled and diced

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

200g dried red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear, and drained

1 x 400g tin of coconut milk

500ml vegetable stock

Sea salt and freshly ground

Black pepper

2 handfuls of washed fresh

Spinach or 2 blocks of frozen

Juice of ½ a lemon

Handful of fresh coriander leaves


  1. Heat a large pan over a medium heat and gently toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mustard seeds start to pop. 
  2. Tip them out of the pan, and then lightly grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  3. Put the coconut oil into the hot pan, then add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook gently for 5 minutes over a low heat. 
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes.
  5. Add the freshly ground spices, along with the turmeric and garam masala, and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Finally, add the lentils, coconut milk and vegetable stock, and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. 
  7. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on, then 10 minutes with the cover off to allow it to thicken.
  8. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Just before serving, add the spinach and stir until it wilts, then squeeze in the lemon juice and top with fresh coriander leaves.

Recipe courtesy of Simply Good For You by Amelia Freer (Penguin)

IMAGE: Susan Bell

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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