Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

A favorite green lentil soup topped with a curried brown butter drizzle, and pan-fried paneer cubes.

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

One of my favorite cold-weather soups - green lentils (or split peas), topped with a curried brown butter drizzle, and pan-fried paneer cubes. Some of you might recognize it from Super Natural Every Day.
Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

It's a soup I revisit often, and these photos are outtakes of it that ran in an early issue of Kinfolk magazine. I did a short little essay about winter (volume two!), and it ran alongside with some pictures Wayne and I contributed. 

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

Here's the deal. The magic here is the curried brown butter drizzle. Don't skip it. Also, a good chunk of hearty sourdough really elevates the whole experience. Or! Some good naan or paratha.

Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
You can certainly explore a vegan version though. You could infuse some olive oil or coconut oil with spices, and brown some tofu in place of paneer. A different beast, but also really good. Not brown butter good on the flavor front, but still good. ;)Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter
I also want to note there are some great variation ideas down in the comments. 

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Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

4.49 from 25 votes

You can use either green lentils of green split peas here. Both are delicious, but the green split peas tend to lend a brighter green color to the soup.

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 1/2 cups / 1.3 liters good-tasting vegetable broth or water
  • 1 1/2 cups / 10.5 oz / 300 g green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Indian curry powder
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml coconut milk
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, minced
  • small cubes of pan-fried paneer (optional)
  1. Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauté until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth.
  3. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of a salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives, (and paneer cubes if you're using them).

Serves 4 to 6.

from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
50 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment


I can relate to the need to relax--and to savoring the moment when it finally (sweetly) arrives. This soup looks amazing; even though I have your cookbook, I must have missed it on my way to the Baked Oatmeal and Rice Casserole. But I definitely won't pass it over again!

katy from diningwithdusty

I am allergic to lentils, and have often wondered whether an appropriate substitute existed. I see you've listed green split peas here. Would that work in other kinds of recipes too? This would make my day if I could finally find a substitute!! Many thanks, and happy New Year from an enthusiastic reader.


I enjoyed your piece in Kinfolk and it's fun to see the outtakes here. That bread does look amazing. I also like the shot taken from behind with your braided hair- so creative. Happy New Year!

la domestique

Happy New Year Heidi! I (finally) got a copy of SNED from my boyfriend for Christmas! Along with an amazing chef's knife! So I've been cooking my way through your book and, funnily enough, was going to try this next! I've been reading and enjoying your blog since 2007, though am not one to comment often. But that said, I wanted to today to tell you how much I'm enjoying SNED - it's a really beautiful book! My  organic co-op (where I get my seasonal box of vegies from) has just started stocking golden castor sugar, black-strap molasses, rapunzel stock cubes, organic mustards, and various of your other favoured ingredients, usually very hard to find here, which makes me think there's been quite a few requests for them from other Melbourne (aus) 101 readers!  Thanks for all the inspiration! 


This soup looks similar in color and texture to the curried parsnip and butter bean soup I made yesterday. I love using curry in soups as it adds such a wonderful and spicy flavor. I am going to try this soup as well and add it to my list of winter soups. Happy New Year Heidi :) Jackie

jackie @ marin mama cooks

Thank you for mentioning Kinfolk. I perused their web journal and ordered my first copy. It seems to encompass everything I feel about entertaining and sharing with friends...I look forward to its arrival!


I love this soup! Have made it several times from the book, and everyone always has seconds! Sooo delicious!


Oh wow- I always love how everything is so natural looking in all your photos! Thanks for another great recipe!

Simply Life

Ha! I spent yesterday cleaning the kitchen! It was pretty bad after holiday meals, plus I had the help of three unhelpfully helpful ferrets. This soup looks great, and I love lentils. Always looking for something warming and filling here in North Pole, AK in the winter. Thanks!


Mine, sans the chives because I did not have them is now sitting in the freezer!! It was tasting delicious and my Daughter in Law loves it. So, I make it for her. One day soon, I will deliver it to where she works. Maybe tomorrow and surprise her for a nice treat for their supper. My son (and the family) got really lucky 25 years ago when they married. They were childhood sweethearts from grammer school :-). And still going strong with love. God has indeed blessed us all. Thank you Heidi this is delicious and next time, I will have chives handy. Have a fantastic new year in your new home.

Beverly Jane

Heidi, Thanks for the reminder to try this soup. It's one of the ones in your book I have yet to try. Everything has been amazing from that cookbook by the way. Many make weekly appearances on my table. The pictures here are beautiful. Congrats on your article and photos in Kinfolk. I'll check back in the New Year! :)


My loving daughter Barbara gave me your Super Natural Every Day Cookbook for my recent birthday. It has been great enjoyment just viewing your wonderful recipes. Now the holidays are over and I am ready to cook your healthy recipes. Thank you Heidi for a great edition.

Donna Myers

Looking for how to/ghee recipe....... thanks for all u do!!! :)

lil peg

Yum! This one is perfect for our rainy Wintry weather in Portland, OR. Definitely on the list or will be on the stove this weekend. Thanks Heidi!


A dear friend gave me SNED for my birthday earlier this month. Last night I had a small dinner party based almost entirely on recipes from it - turnip chips, roasted chickpeas, white bean spread (+your crackers from 101CB), roasted kale salad, red Thai curry squash... everything was fantastic! Love, love, love the book. (I can't wait to have the leftovers tonight :)
HS: Happy to hear that Deb! Happy new year :)


Hello....I love your recipes and they have been a great inspiration for my recipes in our tea lounge/ smoothie bar and yoga studio....I wanted to make a nourishing curry filled with heart warming ingredients. I used your coconut curry recipe with a twist. I used a really good Darjeeling tea....just enough for the taste of india....blessings to you for all your amazing it!

karen matusow

Heidi, as usual this recipe looks and sounds delicious. I'd like to know which type/brand of curry powder you prefer for this recipe. I have a couple of curry powders in my pantry, but I'm not sure I like them or which kind to use where/when. There are sooooo many! Thank you again for your imagery and inspiration. Heather P.S. I love your opening paragraph. I have two under four and we sometimes thrive in mess.


Don't worry about it, Heidi. My grandma used to say that as long as you were really living and enjoying it, you didn't need to wash the kitchen floor until it pulled your socks off.


I got your book, Super Natural Every Day, for Christmas and I was so excited! I have been following your blog for some time and had been meaning to pick up your book. The first thing I tried from it was this green lentil soup and it was amazing. I did make a few minor modifications though (Thai curry paste instead of Indian and addition of kale). I am so thankful for you and your blog. You have opened my eyes to a new way of healthy eating and I'm loving it. Thank you! Happy New Year!


This soup is in regular rotation at our house, it is so delicious. The last time I made it we were out of red pepper flakes, so I substituted a little crushed chipotle. Wow! Give it a try sometime. BTW I was at Powell's in Portland last week and saw Super Natural Every Day in its own end cap display. Congrats! Thanks for all the great recipes.


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