Green Lentil Soups

For the past few months, I have been working my way through a few rouge bags of green lentils I found hiding out in the pantry. During the week, I found my cooking aspirations started high but quickly waned to whatever was quick and easy. This often resulted in throwing the green lentils into a pot of broth along with whatever else I had on hand – carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, and as often as possible, sausage.

I had been eyeing two green lentil soup recipes, one making use of curry powder and the other coconut milk, since I started to “cook” with the green lentils. Since I couldn’t decide which green lentil soup recipe I would like better, and to make up for all those nights I used the green lentils as an afterthought, I opted to conduct my own green lentil soup showdown for the last installment of Souper Bowl Sunday.

curried green lentil soup

The first recipe, curried green lentil soup, reminded me of a different take on vegetable soup. I modified the original recipe to include tomatoes and whole chickpeas, and I really liked the additional vegetables and beans. The two tablespoons of curry powder gave the soup warmth and a yellow hue.

When I think of curry powder, the yellow curry traditionally used in Indian cooking comes to mind. I do not tend to think of the green curry and red curry dishes I see on my favorite Thai menu, and I certainly never considered what gives curries their color. It turns out turmeric gives yellow curry its color.

Turmeric provides an intense natural color and is used as a natural dye (think yellow-gold Easter Eggs), so beware it will stain your plastic utensils and plastic containers. I simply want to point this out so you are not disappointed when your brand new spoon is a brand new color after you stir the soup (speaking from experience here).

The second recipe, green lentil-coconut milk soup, had a slightly sweet taste. I preferred this soup simply because the curried green lentil soup reminded me so much of vegetable soup, and I set out to make a soup I had never experienced before.

Although you do not see it in the recipe written below (you may see it if you you closely at the picture), I added some browned sausage to the soup. I hated to write this as an ingredient in the recipe since the soup is such a great vegetarian dish, but like bacon, I find sausage makes everything taste just a little bit better.

Speaking of better, the flavor of both soups improves with time. I made the soups last Saturday, and at first taste, they were just okay. I liked them, but I had not found a new souperstar. As I ate the soups for lunch each day, I liked them more and more. By Wednesday, they tasted really, really good. I had been eating the soups five days straight by then, so to say I truly enjoyed my leftovers after so many days is a decent testament. Enjoy!

Green Lentil Soups

Green Lentil Soups
  • For the Curried Green Lentil Soup
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 4¼ cups water, divided
  • 2 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • For the Green Lentil-Coconut Milk Soup
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced and divided
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1½ cups green lentils
  • 4 cups (1 container) of vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  1. To make the Curried Green Lentil Soup, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, and one of the minced garlic cloves. Cook until the vegetables are soft, about eight minutes.
  3. Add the curry powder, stir, and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Add the lentils and 4 cups of the water to the pot.
  5. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat back to medium and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. While the soup simmers, puree one can of the chickpeas with ¼ cup water, the lemon juice, remaining two tablespoons of olive oil, and remaining garlic clove.
  7. Add the chickpea puree and the butter to the soup.
  8. When the lentils are tender, add the additional chick peas and the tomatoes to the soup.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions before serving.
  10. To make the Green Lentil-Coconut Milk Soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  11. Add the onion and the garlic clove and cook until the onion is soft, about eight minutes.
  12. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stir, and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  13. Add the rinsed lentils and the broth to the pot.
  14. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
  15. Reduce heat back to medium and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  16. Add the coconut milk, stir until well combined, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

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