Food

Lentil Soup

This hearty lentil soup will chase away the chill.
BY Jennifer Segal TIMENovember 28, 2022 PRINT

View the print-ready version of this recipe.

Whether you’re looking to eat better or chase away the cold weather doldrums, this smoky lentil soup with vegetables is just the ticket. It is best made with French green lentils, or lentilles du Puy. Prized by chefs for their earthy, peppery flavor and sturdy texture, these small lentils hold their shape when cooked, thickening the soup without turning it to mush (if you’ve ever had lentil soup so thick you could stand a spoon in it, you know what I mean). You can find French green lentils in many supermarkets—I usually get them at Whole Foods or Wegman’s—or order them online. They are worth going out of your way to find, as they work beautifully in soups and salads. If you can’t get them, it’s fine to use common green or brown lentils; just watch the cooking time as they can get mushy.

lentils
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Unlike dried beans, lentils don’t require pre-soaking prior to being cooked. You simply pick over the little legumes, remove any that look broken or damaged, and cook.

What You’ll Need To Make Lentil Soup

ingredients for Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

While I love the smoky flavor that bacon lends to this soup, if you don’t eat pork or are a vegetarian, you can omit the bacon. The soup will still be delicious but you might add a pinch of smoked paprika to mimic the flavor of the bacon.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Begin with the prep. To make the bacon easy to chop, wrap the slices you need in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. They will be a bit stiffer when you remove them and much easier easier to cut.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Chop the bacon, onions, and celery very fine, so they aren’t too discernible in the finished soup, but keep the carrots a bit larger so they don’t disappear.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Bring to a boil.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils).

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Using an immersion blender, purée the soup a little bit at a time until the broth is slightly thickened. Go easy—if you purée the soup too much, it will get too thick and you’ll lose the integrity of the lentils. If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply transfer a few cups of the soup to a standard blender and purée, then return the blended soup to the pot.

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Season to taste and adjust the consistency if necessary (the soup tends to thicken as it sits, so you may need to add some water).

making Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

Lentil Soup
(Courtesy of Jenn Segal)

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Lentil Soup

By Jennifer Segal

Servings: 6
Total Time: 1 Hour

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth, best quality such as Swanson
  • 1 cup French lentils (lentilles du Puy) or common brown or green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils). Fish out the bay leaves and discard.

Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until the broth is slightly thickened, or to desired consistency. (Be careful not to purée too much or the soup will get too thick, and you’ll lose the integrity of the lentils.) If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the blended soup to the pot. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley if desired and serve. (Note: The soup may thicken as it sits; thin with a bit of water if necessary.)

Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.

Pair With

Arugula Salad with Apples & Manchego in Cider Vinaigrette

 

This article was originally published on OnceUponaChef.com.

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Jennifer is a classically trained chef, Cookbook author, and busy mom. She became interested in cooking in college while studying abroad in France and living with a French family. She is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine. Visit OnceUponaChef.com.
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