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Hale and Hearty: Warm Your Hearth With Lentil Soup

Photo by Anna Pustynnikova / iStock
Photo by Anna Pustynnikova / iStock

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

  1. 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.
  2. Want to add a little zip? Try this lemony version from the popular blog Cookie + Kate which also gets some zing from collard greens.
  3. 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.
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