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