home cooked dinners by the season

French Lentil Soup (with vegan and vegetarian variations)

French Lentil Soup (with vegan and vegetarian variations)

Soup for dinner is a favorite to transition into the seasonal weather change. It’s dinner in one pot with an easy addition of bread.

Smoky bacon drippings and fragrant rosemary and thyme simmered together with a variety of chopped vegetables give the soup a rich base flavor. The more unusual French green lentils hold their shape better than their brown lentil cousin when simmered in a soup but still soften for a naturally thickened texture. Chopped Italian parsley stirred in at the end adds a clean, bright flavor and crunchy bits of bacon sprinkled on top give crunch to soft cooked lentils.

For a vegan or vegetarian option, eliminate the bacon and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.  Crumbled feta or goat cheese or a spoonful of sour cream or plain yogurt are good additions. For Vegans a sprinkle of chopped tofu.

French Lentil Soup (with vegan and vegetarian variations)
Serves: 4 (8 cups)
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped (see note)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) French green lentils, washed
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or ¾ teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  1. Cook bacon in a medium size stockpot over medium heat until crisp, about 4-5 minutes; remove to paper towels to drain.
  2. There should be about 2 tablespoons bacon fat reserved in the pan, if not add additional olive or vegetable oil to equal this amount. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, chicken broth, rosemary, thyme and salt; bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook uncovered until lentils are just soft, but retain their shape, about 35-45 minutes. For a thicker consistency, lightly mash the lentils in the soup with a potato masher about 4 to 5 times.
  3. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chopped cooked bacon on top.
For a vegetarian or vegan option, eliminate the bacon and begin by heating 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil over medium heat to cook the vegetables. Sprinkle soup with crumbled feta or goat cheese, sour cream or plain yogurt for a vegetarian option.

For a vegan option, sprinkle with chopped tofu.


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3 thoughts on “French Lentil Soup (with vegan and vegetarian variations)”

  • Thanks for the vegan option… we have been cutting down on meats, and I have tried to tilt the dinners very heavily toward veggies. This looks great. Will try it this weekend.

  • I forgot to mention there is a great little place in Capital Hill called Sugar Pill (on Pine, close to Broadway). The proprietor has an amazing collection of finishing salts. She has a hickory smoked salt that she recommends for giving foods a smokey bacon flavor.

  • All right, another credit to the French from my dear Linda !
    To all, look for ‘lentilles du Puy’, they are the finest, the true thing in other words. enjoy !

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