The lentil soup pictured above is like the rare treasure on the sale rack that's both feasible and flattering. Like so many of my favorite Heidi Swanson's recipes, this one, aptly named "Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter" is appealing because the ingredients are ordinary but the final result is exotic.
You will not have to go to the farmers market (which, for all you know, is closed due to inclement weather) or source ingredients from the internet. The soup is founded on run-of-the-mill green lentils made creamy with coconut milk. The spice comes from a technique used to make Indian dal called "tadka," in which, at the last moment, the lentils are flavored and fattened with ghee-fried spices and herbs.
Here, the finished soup gets swirled and swooped with curry powder that has released its fragrance in a warm bath of brown butter. A soup that was once dull and drab and, you thought, irrevocably brown, is now chic—more so if you pan-fry paneer in a tablespoon or two of ghee or coconut oil and use it as a garnish. Without even realizing what you've done, you’ll come away with a lentil soup that you won’t have to motivate yourself to finish.