French Lentil Soup

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This nourishing French lentil soup is deeply flavorful. Filled with rich hearty textures, it’s comforting and delicious. A staple offering at rustic restaurants in the French countryside, this savory soup is an experience worth having.

📌 PIN FRENCH LENTIL SOUP

Green lentil soup on a serving table with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley.

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Most carnivores won’t miss having meat in this soup. But if meat-loving taste buds must be satisfied, it’s easy to make that happen. Dice up 4 slices of bacon. Cook it in the soup pot over medium heat until crisp. Then proceed with the recipe. Or, add some baked chicken meatballs to the finished dish.

A cozy bowl of lentil soup with spoon and napkin.

French lentils are the favored choice for this vegetable soup because they’re special. They have a richer, earthier, more delicious flavor than other lentils. They also hold their shape. They don’t fall apart while cooking.

On cold-weather days, having this healthy French lentil soup simmering on the stovetop feels warm and satisfying. Packed with rustic flavors, the rising aromas are irresistible! So slip on an apron and pull out a pot. Let’s get started. If you can chop and sauté, you can make this simple easy recipe!

A delicious bowl of French Lentil Soup garnished with freshly-grated Parmesan.

🛒 INGREDIENTS

SHOPPING TIP: French lentils are often called Le Puy lentils. They’re easy to find at organic markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and bulk food stores. Look for them in the aisle with rice or soup mixes, or the ethnic flavors aisle.

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Yellow onions
  • Shallots
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chicken stock, good quality
  • French lentils
  • Dijon mustard made with white wine
  • Dried bay leaf
  • Red wine vinegar
  • GARNISHES: Olive oil and Parmesan cheese

🥫OPTIONAL: Tomato paste to flavor and thicken.

Ingredients for French lentil soup.

🧅 EASY INGREDIENT SWAPS

Missing an ingredient for this French lentil soup? Don’t put on your shoes and head to the market. Instead, head to your fridge or pantry. Check for these easy ingredient swaps.

It’s convenient and money-saving to use ingredients you already have on hand! Especially during stay-at-home times.

  • Butter: Use more olive oil instead.
  • Yellow Onions: Use all shallots instead.
  • Shallots: Substitute with yellow onions.
  • Leeks: Sub with scallions (green onions).
  • Garlic Cloves: Use garlic powder (to taste) instead.
  • Fresh Thyme: Used dried thyme instead. One teaspoon dried thyme is equal to 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme. If you don’t have dried thyme, try oregano, basil, Italian seasoning, savory, or Herbes de Provence.
  • Chicken Stock: Use chicken broth, beef stock, or vegetable stock.
  • French Lentils: Use green lentils or brown lentils instead. For these options, the cooking time will be shortened. (French lentils are actually a variety of green lentils. A bit darker in color, they’re smaller in size with a firmer texture that requires more cooking time than with other lentils.)
  • Dried Bay Leaf: The flavor is very subtle. So if you don’t this on hand, just leave it out! You can also add a few pinches of crushed dried oregano or rosemary.
  • Dijon Mustard: Use whole-grain mustard or yellow mustard. If you don’t have these either, sub with tomato paste.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Use red wine, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.
  • Parmesan Cheese (garnish): Use Pecorino Romano instead.
Best French Lentil Soup served in a white bowl with a spoon.

📖 RECIPE STEPS

RECIPE PREP: Dice veggies by hand, or use a food processor to speed things up. Add lentils to a large bowl. Cover with super-hot boiling water. Let them sit and soften while you start the recipe. This will help them cook faster.

  • STEP 1: Form the aromatic flavor base. Add olive oil and butter to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once butter has melted, sauté onions, shallots, leeks, and garlic with cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir frequently until veggies are translucent and tender, about 20 minutes.
  • STEP 2: Add carrots and celery to the pot. Sauté 10 minutes. Add chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits. Drain lentils in a colander. Transfer them to the pot. Add tomato paste (if using), dijon mustard and bay leaf. Stir briefly.
  • STEP 3: Cover the pot with a lid. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and remove the lid. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until lentils are tender and soup has thickened.
  • STEP 4: Remove bay leaf. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add red wine vinegar. It enhances the flavor and brightens the finished dish. Stir briefly. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
Two images showing how to make and garnish French lentil soup.

👩🏻‍🍳 RECIPE FAQ

These are the most commonly asked questions when making French lentil soup, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

How to make this soup a vegetarian recipe?

Replace butter with olive oil. Rather than chicken stock, use vegetable stock. Rather than Parmesan cheese, garnish the soup with chopped Italian parsley or cilantro.

How to increase the depth of flavor?

Add a rind of Parmesan cheese mid-way through the cooking process. Or try some miso paste for an awesome umami boost. More add-ins include cooked crispy bacon, or bits of delicious pan-fried ham. For an earthy musky flavor, add a sprinkling of turmeric.

How to thicken lentil soup?

Stir in a few tablespoons of tomato paste or tomato puree until desired thickness is achieved. You can also just simmer to reduce liquid, or blend up a bit of the soup with an immersion blender.

More types of veggies for lentil soup?

Try mushrooms, or canned tomatoes with their juices. Or go for more root veggies like diced potatoes, parsnips or turnips. Leafy greens like spinach and kale can be added toward the end of the cook time.

What to pair with French lentil soup?

Pair this soup with a crisp garden salad or chicken skewers. Serve with a warm loaf of crusty bread, or jazzed up Jiffy cornbread.

How to store leftover soup?

Transfer the cooled (or slightly warm) lentil soup to a glass or plastic container with a secure snap-on lid. Store it in the fridge up to 3 days.

Can I freeze French Lentil Soup?

Yes, it can. Transfer cooled soup to a freezer-safe (plastic or glass) container. Or use quart-sized freezer bags, leaving enough room in the bags for the soup to expand. When ready to enjoy, defrost in the fridge for 12 hours. Reheat on stovetop until warm/hot.

Bowl of French lentil soup garnished with parmesan, served on a wooden board with linen napkin.

🍲 MORE COZY SOUP RECIPES

These must-make soup recipes will carry you through the cold-weather months. When it’s windy, raining or snowing outside, there’s nothing more cozy and satisfying than a simmering pot of soup on the stovetop.

RATE THIS RECIPE ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The whole family loves this savory recipe. They say it’s the best French lentil soup. I love that it’s healthy and nourishing, and hearty enough to satisfy the hungriest of appetites. I often double the recipe and freeze half for later.

If you too enjoyed this rustic French recipe, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero! Share it with a friend.

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Green lentil soup on a serving table with Parmesan cheese and Italian parsley.

FRENCH LENTIL SOUP


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes
  • Yield: 5 Servings 1x
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Description

This rustic French lentil soup is healthy and nourishing. It’s packed with hearty textures and rich savory flavors. If you can chop and sauté, you can make this delicious easy recipe.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups celery
  • 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 1/8 cups (about 1/2 pound) French lentils
  • 1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard made with white wine
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

OPTIONAL: 2 tablespoons tomato paste to flavor and thicken.

GARNISHES: Olive oil and freshly-grated Parmesan cheese


Instructions

RECIPE PREP: Dice veggies by hand, or use a food processor to speed things up. Add lentils to a large bowl. Cover with super-hot boiling water. Let them sit and soften while you start the recipe. This will help them cook faster.

  1. Form the aromatic flavor base. Add olive oil and butter to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Once butter has melted, sauté onions, shallots, leeks, and garlic with cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir frequently until veggies are translucent and tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add carrots and celery to the pot. Sauté 10 minutes. Add chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits. Drain lentils in a colander. Transfer them to the pot. Add tomato paste (if using), dijon mustard and bay leaf. Stir briefly.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and remove the lid. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until lentils are tender and soup has thickened. 
  4. Remove bay leaf. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add wine vinegar. It enhances the flavor and brightens the finished dish. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

Notes

HOW TO MAKE THIS A VEGETARIAN RECIPE: Replace butter with olive oil. Rather than chicken stock, use vegetable stock. Rather than Parmesan cheese, garnish the soup with chopped Italian parsley or cilantro.

HOW TO INCREASE THE DEPTH OF FLAVOR? Add a rind of Parmesan cheese mid-way through the cooking process. Or try some miso paste for an awesome umami boost. More add-ins include cooked crispy bacon, bits of delicious pan-fried ham, or baked chicken meatballs. For an earthy musky flavor, add a sprinkling of turmeric.

  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

FRENCH LENTIL SOUP > JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Have you ever experienced the joy of eating French lentil soup? What are your favorite soups for cozy sweater-wearing days? Share your thoughts on this rustic dish in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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7 Comments

  1. I made this for dinner and it was soooo good! Thank you so much for this easy recipe. I enjoy making healthy dishes with beautiful flavors.

  2. Yum!! This soup is so warming, comforting and filling! It was the perfect plant based dinner for us this evening – easy to make and easy to clean up too!






  3. Delicious! I love this French lentil soup, and this recipe was so easy! I’ll be making it again and again all season long.