A warm, cozy yet healthy-ish meal is what we often yearn for during the colder seasons – and this French Lentil Soup is just that. Made with heaps of lentils, carrots, celery, ham and spices for good measure, this soup is a simple recipe that delivers big flavors. It’s hearty, filling and with a texture that is both creamy and chunky. This is a delicious staple for a weekday dinner to cozy up to.
About French lentils
As its name suggests, a traditional French Lentil Soup is made with Puy Lentils commonly known as “French Lentils”. These slate green lentils grown in Le Puy, in the Auvergne Central region of France, are protected under an AOC label (Appélation d’origine controlée), testifying to their authenticity.
French lentils have a distinct peppery taste and I love how that they hold their shape very well once cooked. They are very often used in soups, but also make a great side for meat or fish. In the US/Canada, they can be found in specialty grocery stores or online. For a more affordable option, they can be substituted in any recipe with common green or brown lentils.
- As mentioned above, French lentils are preferred for this recipe. But alternatively, green or brown lentils (as used in this recipe’s photos) work well too.
- For the ham, choose an “original” or “traditional black forest” ham (not flavored; ie. brown sugar or honey maple). Cut it in small cubes, and make sure you remove the skin (the skin doesn’t cook well in the broth, and ends up being very rubbery).
- To make this soup vegetarian, simply skip the ham.
- The final step of this recipe includes blending a small portion of the soup into a blender. So you will need to use a food blender such as this one.
I hope you enjoy this Classic French Lentil Soup as much as I do! It is a perfect weekday lunch or dinner for the whole family. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.
You may also like:
- Creamy Leek & Potato Soup (Soupe Vichyssoise)
- Swiss Chard Pancakes (Farcous)
- Chicken in creamy mushroom sauce (Poulet à la Forestière)
- Pork Chops in Grainy Mustard Sauce
- Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic and Onion
2 tbsp (30ml) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
100g ham, cubed
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced (keep leaves for garnish)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can [[28-fld oz/796ml] diced tomatoes
1 ½ cup (288g) French green lentils (or brown lentils)
4 cups (945ml) vegetable broth
Step 1 - Heat up the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium-heat. Add the cubed ham and cook for about 5 minutes until the ham is lightly seared and fragrant. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the carrots, celery, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, thyme and pepper, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 2 – Add the diced tomatoes, lentils and broth. Stir to combine and lower the temperature to low-medium heat. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 45 minutes (until the lentils are done).
Step 3 – Transfer about 2 cups (500ml) of the “soup” to a blender and puree until smooth. Stir it back into the pot with the rest of the soup. The soup should be creamy with some "chunks" – if too thick, you can thin it out by adding ¼ cup of water at a time. Turn off the heat, season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Serve in individual bowls with a few chopped celery leaves for garnish.
Did you make this recipe?