How Do You Make Traditional Lentil Soup?
This is a super simple healthy recipe for traditional lentil soup made with lentils, tomatoes, broth, and loads of herbs and greens.
We’re calling it Traditional Lentil Soup because it is the traditional recipe we grew up making, and it just so happens to be loaded with veggies and vegan. However, it is by no means the only version of this soup out there.
What Is French Lentil Soup?
Lentil soup is historically eaten in many cultures around the world, from the Middle East to Italy. This recipe is a French-style lentil soup, which is a recipe you’ll often find in many home cooks’ repertoires in France.
In addition to the classic French-style soup base of mirepoix (aka a mix of carrots, onions or leeks, and celery), it traditionally is made with green lentils from France known as “Le Puy” lentils.
How To Clean And Prepare Lentils
Unlike dried beans, you do not need to soak lentils before using them. You can do so and it will cut down the cooking time by as much as half.
However, we often skip that and cook them for their full time. Regardless, you’ll want to rinse the lentils before using them and pick out any debris.
Tips To Make Traditional Lentil Soup
When it comes to cooking instructions, making this lentil soup couldn’t be easier. And it’s one of the quickest soups to make, as you can have it on your table in just over 30 minutes.
Though this soup is pretty straightforward, we do have a few tips:
- Find The Lentils You Like: Vary the type of lentils to green or black (just don’t use red lentils, which will turn to mush).
- Amp It Up With Spices: You can alter it by adding in spices (like cumin, coriander, paprika, or curry). We’d suggest adding any of those spices in just after the vegetables are soft and cooking until the spices are fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding the salt and pepper and continuing with the recipe.
- Choose Your Texture: Like with classic tortilla soup, some people like this served chunky while others like blending it to make it smoother. Or, better yet, you do what we call for in the recipe and blend part and leave party chunky so you get the best of both worlds.
Ways To Garnish Traditional Lentil Soup
Since we’re always and forever searching for balance in our cooking, we like to make a few tweaks to amp up the taste of our lentil soup.
We always add a splash of acid (like lemon juice or vinegar) and some fresh parsley.
But it’s also fabulous with a pinch of red pepper flakes or adding in a bit of aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
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Classic French Lentil Soup Recipe
For The Traditional Lentil Soup:
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for garnish
- 4 medium carrots ends trimmed and discarded, remaining diced
- 4 celery stalks ends trimmed and discarded, remaining diced
- 1 medium red onion (or white or yellow onion) ends trimmed and discarded, remaining diced
- 6 medium garlic cloves peeled and minced
- Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups black beluga lentils or green or brown lentils (don't use red because they'll break apart and turn mushy)
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 1 sprig fresh marjoram, thyme, or oregano leaves
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, chicken broth, or water
- Splash red wine vinegar or freshly-squeezed lemon juice, optional
- Handfuls baby spinach, kale, or chard optional
- Handfuls Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves optional
- Make The Traditional Lentil Soup: Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until it's shimmering. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic cook until translucent and softened. Season well with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir in the lentils, bay leaf, and oregano (if using) and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their liquid and the broth or water, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until lentils are just soft but not mushy, about 25 minutes.TIP: You can stop now and serve the soup brothy (remove the bay leaf and oregano sprig) or blend part of it. Put 1/3 of the soup in a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender and blend 1/3 until smooth (this thickens the soup but still leaves texture!
- Serve The Lentil Soup: If you want a little more "brightness," add in some lemon juice or vinegar. For a little more nutrition and flavor, stir in a few handfuls of greens or parsley until they wilt. Otherwise, drizzle in a bit more olive oil and serve with crusty bread and a green salad!