French Lentil Soup
French lentil soup is a hearty and flavorful soup that is perfect for a comforting meal on a chilly day. This classic soup is made with tender green lentils, bacon, aromatic vegetables, and savory herbs, creating a delicious and nutritious dish that is both filling and satisfying.
For more satisfying soups that are sure to warm you up, make sure to check my soup category. I have a feeling you will also love my French Onion Soup, Brazilian Black Bean Soup and/or Pasta e Fagioli Soup!
If you’re a soup lover, like me, this recipe is for you! ♥️
It is comforting, satisfying and packed with veggies so you can feel good about eating it. Yes, it has bacon in it, but it’s only a little bit and bacon always makes everything better, amirite? 😂 But you can always omit it, if you’d like!
And while this French lentil soup is best made with – drum roll – French lentils, it works just as well with any type of green or brown lentils. That means you have no excuses not to make this asap, with whatever you already have at home!
Before we get to talking all about this delicious soup, a fun fact for you: we Brazilians believe that eating lentils on New Year’s Eve brings good luck to your new year. So go ahead and add this to the menu for your NYE party if you’re hoping for a streak of luck once the clock strikes midnight! 😊
What is French Lentil Soup? Is it French?
French lentil soup, also known as Puy Lentil soup, is a soup made with French green lentils, which are a specific variety of lentils grown in the Puy region of France.
While this soup is often associated with French cuisine and made with French ingredients, it is not necessarily a traditional French dish in the sense that it hasn’t been eaten exclusively in France. The popularity of this soup has spread beyond France, and it is served in many parts of the world.
That being said, lentil soup is a popular dish in many cultures and has been enjoyed for centuries, including in France. Lentil soups have likely been made in France for a long time, but it’s unclear when the specific recipe for French lentil soup originated.
Where can I buy Puy lentils?
Puy lentils, also known as French green lentils, can be found at many specialty grocery stores, health food stores, and online retailers. Here are some places where you may be able to find puy lentils:
- Specialty food stores: Look for gourmet or specialty food stores in your area that may carry puy lentils. They may also be found at international food stores.
- Health food stores: Many health food stores carry a variety of lentils, including puy lentils.
- Online retailers: You can find puy lentils on various online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Whole Foods.
- Farmers markets: Check your local farmers market during the growing season to see if any vendors sell puy lentils.
- Bulk food stores: Some bulk food stores may carry puy lentils in their lentil section.
When purchasing puy lentils, be sure to look for high-quality lentils that are free from any debris or broken pieces. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to maintain their freshness.
To make this French Lentil Soup, you will need:
- Lentils – For French lentil soup, you should use French green lentils, also known as Puy lentils. These lentils are small and greenish-gray in color with a slightly peppery flavor. They hold their shape well when cooked and have a firm texture, which makes them perfect for soups and stews. If you can’t find Puy lentils, you can also use other types of green or brown lentils as a substitute.
- Bacon – Bacon adds a touch of smoky and salty flavor to this lentil soup, but can be omitted for a vegetarian/vegan version!
- Veggies – I like to use onion, garlic, carrot, celery and leeks in this recipe, but you can use whatever veggies you have on hand! If you’d like, spinach or kale can be added at the end of cooking for added nutrition and flavor.
- Herbs – Bay leaves (dried or fresh) and fresh thyme. You can substitute the fresh thyme for 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, if that’s what you have at home.
- Canned Tomatoes – A can of crushed tomatoes adds depth of flavor and thickness to this lentil soup, as well as a touch of sweetness and acidity.
- Broth – You can use chicken or vegetable broth.
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
How to Make Lentil Soup
This lentil soup recipe is quite easy to make. It requires minimal preparation/equipment and can be made with just a few simple ingredients that you might already have in your pantry and fridge.
The cooking process is also straightforward, and the soup can be ready in under an hour. You can customize the recipe by adding different vegetables, spices, or herbs to suit your taste. Overall, lentil soup is a great choice for a healthy and satisfying meal on a busy weeknight.
Here’s how I make this French lentil soup recipe. As always, you will find the printable (and more complete) version of the recipe at the end of this post!
Step 1: Brown the Bacon.
- Heat oil in a large pot and cook the bacon until golden brown but not yet crispy. If the bacon has rendered a lot of fat, drain some, leaving just 1-2 tablespoons in the pot.
Step 2: Sauté the Veggies.
- Add veggies, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until softened.
- Stir in garlic, cooking until fragrant.
Step 3: Cook the Soup.
- Stir in the lentils, then the crushed tomatoes.
- Add the herbs and broth, then cook until the lentils are tender.
- Season to taste.
- You can serve as is, but I like to mash some of the lentils by pressing gently with a wooden spoon against the sides of the pot. It will thicken the soup slightly, making it creamier!
- Unlike beans, lentils don’t have to soak. However, I do recommend rinsing them thoroughly to get rid of any dust or dirt.
- Feel free to play around with the vegetables. Carrots, celery, and onions are classic vegetables to use in lentil soup, but anything works, really. This soup is a great excuse to use-up those veggies that are sitting in your fridge!
- Store-bought broth is fine here, but if you want to elevate this soup, use a flavorful homemade broth if you can!
- Cook the lentils until tender but not mushy. Overcooking them can cause them to become too soft and lose their shape. We want some texture in here!
- For a creamier soup, use an immersion blender. Using an immersion blender can help thicken the soup and give it a creamier texture. Alternatively, you can blend a portion of the soup in a blender and then return it to the pot.
- This French lentil soup recipe can be adapted for the slow cooker or Instant Pot! 😊
Lentil soup can be served in various ways, it can be a starter/first course or a main dish.
It is best served hot, so once the soup is cooked, just ladle it into bowls and serve immediately. You might choose to add toppings, such as croutons, grated cheese, chopped fresh herbs, freshly ground black pepper or just a drizzle of olive oil.
Make it a more robust meal by serving with a side salad or roasted vegetables. Bread is also a classic accompaniment to most soups. I can never resist some crusty bread with this soup! 🥖
Lentil Soup Variations
There are many variations of lentil soup that you can try to change up the flavor and add variety to your meals.
Here are a few ideas:
- Spicy lentil soup: Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes to the soup to give it a spicy kick.
- Curry lentil soup: Add curry powder or garam masala to the soup for a warm and flavorful twist.
- Coconut lentil soup: Add coconut milk and curry powder to the soup for a creamy and slightly sweet flavor.
- Sausage lentil soup: Add sliced or crumbled sausage to the soup for added protein and flavor. You could also add other protein, such as chicken or shrimp!
- Lemon lentil soup: Add fresh lemon juice and zest to the soup for a bright and tangy flavor.
- Ham lentil soup: Add diced ham to the soup for a smoky and salty flavor.
- Vegetable lentil soup: Use a variety of vegetables like zucchini, squash, or bell peppers to add color and nutrition to the soup.
Try out these variations or experiment with your own additions to make a delicious and unique lentil soup!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can use canned lentils for lentil soup. Just be sure to drain and rinse the lentils before using them in the soup. Keep in mind that canned lentils are already cooked, so they will have a softer texture than dried lentils.
If you have leftovers, let the lentil soup cool completely and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving.
Yes, lentil soup freezes well. Let the soup cool completely and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. The soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
To thicken this soup, you can blend a portion of the soup in a blender or use an immersion blender to puree some of the lentils.
More Soup Recipes
- Vichyssoise Soup
- Cream of Spinach Soup
- Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup
- Sweet Potato Soup
- German Sausage and Barley Soup
Did you make this recipe? I love hearing from you! Please comment and leave a 5-star rating below. You can also take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #oliviascuisine.
French Lentil Soup Recipe
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 slices (130g/4.5oz) thick-cut bacon , finely diced
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 4 baby leeks (or 2 small leeks), white and green parts only, finely diced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups (275g) dried French green lentils (or any kind of green or brown lentils), rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14oz/397g) crushed tomatoes
- 8 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat, heat the olive oil and then cook the bacon until golden brown but not yet crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery and leeks, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables have softened and are beginning to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes. Then, stir in the garlic and cook for a few seconds until fragrant and no longer raw.
- Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, broth, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- You can serve as is, but I like to mash some of the lentils by pressing them against the sides of the pot with a wooden spoon. For an even thicker soup, you can use an immersion blender and pulse a few times or even blend 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup in a blender. It all comes down to how creamy or textured you want your lentil soup!
- Serve immediately, with a drizzle of olive oil and some crusty bread! You can also garnish with fresh thyme.