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Weekend Soup: Curried Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard

February 16, 2008

Wow. All I have to say is, it’s been far too long since I’ve had something curried…I had forgotten how much I love it. In the kitchen at our previous place, we had no vent hood over the stove — so curries sadly fell out of the rotation (there was something about smelling it for a week afterwards that wasn’t too appealing.) Thankfully, our current kitchen has a well-functioning hood, so curries are back!

I love lentils, but I’m not particularly crazy about traditional lentil soup — it might have less to do with how the lentils taste and more to do with the dull brown color that the run-of-the-mill common brown spanish lentils have when cooked. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about lentils lately, for some reason. Sadly, our current grocery store doesn’t stock many varieties of lentils, like I used to be able to get when I shopped at Whole Foods back in Boston. So, I just ordered a whole bunch of different ones from — the gorgeous tiny green-and-black-speckled French lentils (Le Puy), red lentils, harvest gold yellow lentils, and some tiny black beluga lentils.  It’s a bit embarrassing how excited I get when I think about all these lentil varieties waiting for me in my pantry.


Seeing as I already had lentils on the brain, when someone was telling me this past week about a great curried lentil soup they’d had, it was all I could think about. So, for this weekend’s soup recipe, it had to be my version of curried lentil soup!

Believe it or not, I used the red lentils in this soup — they’re a beautiful orangey-red color dried, but cooked, they turn a sunny gold. Lovely! (That’s a stroke of luck for me, too; I would have felt bad giving you three bright reddish-orange soup recipes in a row.) And beyond the beautiful sunny yellow color, there’s a rainbow of other colors in this soup — orange carrots, bright red bell peppers, and emerald-green swiss chard. Plus, it has some coconut milk in it, which lends a silkiness to the broth…all of this together gives you a knockout of a meal. Oh, the colors! Oh, the nutrients! Oh, the taste! Can you tell I love this soup?

And one final note; I like a consistency that’s somewhere between a soup and stew. If you cook it a bit longer so that more of the liquid evaporates, you could serve this over rice as an Indian dal-like stew. We had it as is, with some crusty bread to dip in; pita bread or chips would be good to serve with it, too. I’m already looking forward to my next bowl!


Curried Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional; leave out if you don’t want it spicy, or use a little more if you like it really hot)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 pound red lentils (about 2 1/4 cups), rinsed and picked over to remove any debris
8 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 15-oz can coconut milk (stir well before using)
1 tsp salt
1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, red pepper, garlic, ginger and spices and saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the water or stock along with the salt, lentils and coconut milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, wash and prep the chard and chop the cilantro. After the lentils have finished cooking, stir the chard and cilantro into the soup — it will look like a lot of chard for the soup at first, but have no fear. The chard will wilt down as it heats up. Keep stirring until the chard is bright green and wilted, about another 2 minutes. Taste and season as needed with more salt or pepper, and serve.

Serves 8-10.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2008 9:11 pm

    I just wanted to leave you a note to say how much I love your blog. I adore your writing style and your pictures are just sublime. I discovered it about a week ago while blog-hoping at work (shhh don’t tell!). Your recipes are so lovely! I have several in my “have to make” pile — especially this one! (I ❤ chard!!)

    With regards to this recipe, is there a special type of curry I should purchase or will just normal generic curry do? Also, would you expect reduced fat coconut milk to be a huge impact to the flavor?

    You’ve been added to RSS feed!

    Keep up the good work! Bravo!

  2. February 26, 2008 9:57 pm

    Oh, Julia, thank you so much for those kind words! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog!! It thrills me to know that people are actually reading and enjoying what I write and cook – so thanks for letting me know!

    I just used a regular curry powder — no need to buy anything special. Though, I will say, make sure you don’t have the hot curry powder…McCormick makes a mild and a hot, and if you use the hot in these quantities, it will be super spicy! So, as long as you use a curry powder not labeled hot, you should be fine. I hope you enjoy the recipe! (I love chard as well) 🙂


  3. pennythoughts permalink
    May 7, 2008 7:31 pm

    Oh, yum! This is my first visit, but I’ll definitely be back. And I’m immediately adding this soup to next week’s menu plan. It sounds like something we would love. I’m also enthralled by the photograph. Nice shot. 🙂

  4. May 10, 2008 8:06 pm

    Amy, I made the soup last night, and it was great! We really loved it. I made it with water, but I think that next time I’ll make it with the broth. Do you mind if I post the recipe on my blog? I’d give you credit and link to your original recipe, of course.

  5. LuAnn permalink
    August 14, 2008 12:05 am

    I came across this recipe earlier this week when searching for recipes using Swiss chard and knew right away that it was something I wanted to try! Within days, I had all the ingredients together. Tonight, it was our featured dish, along with samosas. I absolutely loved everything about it: the flavor, the color, and the texture. Definitely did remind me of Indian Dal. It tasted SO DELICIOUS, I even told the family, “I could eat this for DESSERT!” My only suggestions would be that if someone is trying to reduce fat, the step of sauteing the vegetables in olive oil can be omitted and the vegetables simply simmered in the water/broth along with the red lentils. Also, no need to discard the Swiss chard ribs – they are nutritious also. While prepping the onions and carrots etc., remove and set aside the LEAVES, then finely chop the ribs and add them to the broth along with the other vegetables. I would like to ask your permission to borrow your basic soup recipe and use it to develop a version of my own, incorporating these and other ideas for a plant-based cookbook I am beginning to work on. I would gladly credit your blog as the original inspiriation, if and when the book is printed. You can email me. Thanks, Amy.

  6. September 18, 2008 12:43 pm

    I’m in the thick of a cold and I am making myself bike my way to the market to make this soup. Thank you for inspiring a normally improv-chef 🙂
    Josh in Ohio

  7. Sarah permalink
    February 7, 2009 6:56 pm

    Just made this soup and ate it for dinner. It was great! I can’t wait for dinner tomorrow when I can have another big warm bowl of this soup. Thanks for the great recipes, Amy.

  8. March 13, 2009 11:00 pm

    I just made this soup for dinner and it was fantastic! I love the chard. I’m so glad we have leftovers for tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe!

  9. Ruth permalink
    April 14, 2009 10:33 am

    I knew I would love this soup when I read the ingredients….and I did love it! In fact, I have tried several of your recipes and have not been disappointed yet.

  10. Theresa permalink
    October 1, 2009 6:15 pm

    This looks wonderful! I love your blog and photos,
    thanks for sharing!

    • Royal permalink
      March 25, 2010 5:53 pm

      I just made this soup and I am so happy. It is one of the best soups I have ever tasted. I am a vegetarian so I love it when I find veggie dishes that are delicious. Thank you so much.

  11. erni caputo permalink
    February 22, 2012 6:36 pm

    sounds just terrific and cant wait to make it. why not use the red chard too?

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