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. 

More Lentil Soup Recipes

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Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

4.5 from 26 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
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Recipe Rating


The soup looks great Heidi. I can't wait to read your piece on Kinfolk. Happy New Year!

Louisa Allan

This was the first recipe from your cookbook that I made! Your two new cookbooks are my go-to for meals now...such great ideas! Love them. Happy New Year!


What a great recipe for this blustery night here in upstate NY. Looks delicious.


I laughed out loud, with understanding, at your first paragraph. That was me yesterday! Thanks for making me feel better about a gross post-holiday house, and for reminding me about one of my favorite soups.


I definitely recognize and adore this soup from SNED! I've only made it with split peas - it's amazing. I love it with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt atop. Serious (delicious) comfort food here, thank you for the reminder... I'll be making this for lunch yet this week now!

Niki of SI

This so good. We make a soup with fresh green peas with ghee and some curry powder and serve it with sauteed paneer cubes, chives are not used that commonly here in India... I am sure going to hunt for some green lentils to make this soup exactly like this. Lovely cozy pictures.

sangeeta khanna

It's raining in my city , this seems perfect on the menu :) Followed the blog, hope you don’t mind. And who knows, maybe you’ll visit me someday too. xoxo


I just made this a few nights ago! So good. Got a new America's Test Kitchen Cookbook and made their buttermilk biscuits too. Nice combo! It was a perfect dinner after a rainy day in the city.

Toni Rae

Happy New Year to you & Wayne, too! It was such a great geting to see you (twice!) this year :)


Looks so good I can smell it! So happy with SNED and the free tote that Powell's gave with the order- I have people asking me, "Wait, you KNOW Heidi?" so it's a little bit of celebrity here in DC... this is on The List, even though I am still waiting for my Prince Tartine...


That bread is beautiful! And that soup...I love it. I am totally in need to good, hearty, healthy food like this. Happy new year!

Belinda @zomppa

Looks delicious! Great pictures!


We make this at least once every two weeks (from SNED) . It is the best thing I cook, I relish every mouthful, it makes me SO happy!! Even my carnivorous husband and picky toddler eat every drop!!! Best. Soup. Ever!!

Cathryn Ramsden

Lentil soup for breakfast! What a brilliant idea on a cold winter day. My fave lentil soup has an Italian twist--garlic, oregano and tomatoes, even a sprinkle of romano. I can't wait to try this one. And Happy Birthday to Pat's 7 year old!


We make this all the time (from super natural every day) and love it. My 7 year old daughter requested this soup for breakfast and french toast for dinner on her upcoming birthday.


the garnishes are what are really looking good here ... and I love the action shots; beautiful photos as always.

Nico('s Tiny Kitchen)

The soup looks wonderful but what's grabbing my eyes is that perfectly crusted bread with those big holes, just perfect for soaking up olive oil...or browned butter :)

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

Looks simple yet perfectly delicious for a cold winter day. Brown butter is so rich in flavour I'm sure that drizzle just makes the dish!

The Healthy Hipster

Yum, this looks so delicious! I'm always on the lookout for good lentil soup recipes since many of them are so dull...this one looks like it has terrific flavor!


Haha the way you described your house is exactly what my house looks like right now :) That green lentil soup looks delicious - I'll definitely be adding the paneer cubes in when I make this dish!

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

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