Hale and Hearty: Warm Your Hearth With Lentil Soup
By Anna Sachse
When the mercury nosedives, nothing beats a warm, hearty bowl of soup. At our house, the flavorful French lentil soup (full recipe below) is a hit with diners of every make and model, from babies who are ready to get more adventurous with solids to picky toddlers to grown-up gourmands.
This recipe is vegetarian, but thanks to a surprising umami richness (courtesy of the browned veggies, cumin, and the method of puréeing some of the soup before serving), even our most dyed-in-the-wool carnivore family and friends ask for seconds. Bonus: Lentils are healthy. They’re packed with protein, fiber, and a gaggle of five-star vitamins. And this soup is really easy to make. Once you’re done chopping, most of the work is over. Try it and see!
French Lentil Soup
* Adapted from a recipe that appeared in Bon Appétit.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 ¼ cups chopped celery
- 1 ¼ cups chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups (or more) vegetable broth
- 1 ¼ cups French green lentils (or brown lentils), picked over (to remove tiny pebbles, dirt, etc.) and rinsed
- ¾ of a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (a single 14.5-ounce can is fine, too)
- 1 tablespoon (or more, to taste) cumin powder
- Splash balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pour oil into a large soup pot or saucepan and heat on medium-high until it shimmers and flows like water when swirled. Add onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic; stirring frequently, cook the veggies until they’re soft and begin to brown—around 15 minutes.
- Add 5 cups broth, the lentils, the tomatoes with juice, the cumin, and salt and pepper to taste, and then bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 35-45 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the stove and transfer 2 cups (mostly solids) to a food processor or blender. To avoid a mess, be sure you only fill your blender halfway or less, remove the lid’s center insert (so that steam can escape), hold a kitchen towel over the top, and then purée the soup in quick, short bursts until smooth.
- Pour the purée back into the soup pot with the remaining unblended soup and stir. Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and a splash of vinegar. If necessary, thin the soup with more broth a ¼ cup at a time.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings, like grated Parmesan, chopped parsley or cilantro, hot sauce, or croutons.
3 More Ways to Love Your Lentils!
- Have an infant that’s just starting out on solids? Try this freezable lentil baby food recipe from children’s food expert and author Annabel Karmel.
- Want to add a little zip? Try this lemony version from the popular blog Cookie + Kate which also gets some zing from collard greens.
- Or if you want something a little extra special, try this lentil and coconut soup with cilantro-habanero gremolata from Serious Eats—just give the kids a sprinkle of Parmesan in place of the gremolata.