I love lentil soup, but I find that it’s often unbearably wholesome and well, just kind of of meh. Whenever I come across a recipe that promises a new! and exciting! lentil soup, I make it with great hope—but am usually let down. I think it just takes a substantial quantity of oomph to get lentil soup across the threshold from wan to fabulous.
These two recipes, however, both have the necessary oomph. Neither uses the conventional muddy brown lentils—instead, one uses a combination of red lentils and yellow split peas, and the other uses sturdier French green lentils. Each has some unusual ingredients—coconut milk in one, pureed chickpeas in the other. Plus, perhaps not coincidentally, each includes a healthy pat of butter. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s all lentil soup needed in the first place.
As delicious as both of these soups are, I also recommend not being afraid to salt them–the right amount really makes them sing.
Coconut red lentil soup
From 101 Cookbooks
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups water
1 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 1.5 oz / 45g golden raisins [I omitted]
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
Rinse the split peas and lentils until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don’t want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.
Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like, or you can simmer longer for a thicker consistency.
Sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions.
Curried lentil soup
From Bon Appetit
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder
1 cup French green lentils
4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor.
Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. Add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.
Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle with thinly sliced green onions and serve with lemon wedges.