Curried lentil soup

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Curried lentil soup

The Veteran's Administration hospital system has the most medical care facilities in the country. In St. Paul, Minnesota there is a large tertiary care VA hospital that provides the entire array of health care services.

I learned recently that the hospital also hosted a farmers' market during Minnesota's growing season last summer, which they modeled after Kaiser Permanente's markets. Hopefully, the markets can eventually spread throughout the VA system as they have throughout Kaiser Permanente.

As you shop at the Kaiser Permanente markets, they have a better chance of continuing to be the model for other health care systems.

There comes a point in cooking where one feels a certain thrill of discovery. I finally understood the basic steps in making soup. There are probably billions of people world-wide who already know this, but I am just getting it.

You can experiment a bit and not be tied to a recipe. You sauté chopped veggies, add seasonings and spices, add stock, beans, lentils, etc, simmer until done, then add things at the end. For instance, try this curried lentil soup. It's easy and excellent on a cold night.

You may find brown or green lentils. Green lentils take a little longer to cook and hold their shape better so I added them while the stock was coming to a boil and added the brown lentils just before turning the soup down to a simmer.

Servings: 4


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, diced or 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 cup lentils (brown, green, or mixed)
  • 4 cups chicken broth or stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped


  1. Warm the olive oil in a soup pot. Sauté the garlic, ginger, fennel, carrot, and shallot for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the stock and bring it to a boil.
  3. Add green lentils before boiling and brown lentils after. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are just tender.
  4. Use a handheld wand blender or puree about 1/3 of the soup in a blender, being careful to cover the open hole in the blender lid with a kitchen towel to allow the steam to escape, preventing an explosion of hot lentils on you and your kitchen.
  5. Return the pureed soup to the pot. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Sweep in chopped cilantro.
  6. Top each serving with a dollop (a large lump or portion of a solid matter) of yogurt if you wish.