Thursday, January 13, 2011

French Lentil Soup

French Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage

My mom has made lentil soup since I was a little girl.  I believe she started with the recipe for Greek Lentil Soup from Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook, but over the years (with slight tweaks here and there) it just became our family’s lentil soup recipe.

I grew up eating brown-green lentils, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that they come in a rainbow of colors: red, yellow, light green, dark green, white and black!  Then two years ago my lovely friend Aurelia brought me a bag of French lentils from southern France and I’ve become rather... well, obsessed.

French Lentils

French lentils are smaller than the brown-green variety, hold their shape slightly better and are a bit chewier when eaten.  They also take a bit longer to cook.  In this house, any dish containing lentils is considered a quick weeknight dish because they don’t require the extended soaking and cooking of beans.  This makes the longer cooking time for French lentils a hurdle, but it's a surmountable one.  I just make sure to start the soup 10-15 minutes earlier than I would for another lentil variety, then I do something else (dishes?) during the extra cooking time.  Simple!

Nutritionally, I can’t say enough about our friendly legume.  They're chock-full of fiber, protein, and B-vitamins.  If you're at all concerned about your cholesterol, eat lentils!  Two-thirds cup of cooked lentils contains 10.5 grams of fiber, and depending on your age, sex, and health, it’s recommended you eat 20-38 grams of fiber per day.  One serving of lentils can get you halfway there. 

Italian Wedding Soup from "My Homemade Year"

Recently, I made a LOT of lentil soup to freeze.  My wonderful friend Katie has started a new project called My Homemade Year.  For the year of 2011, she is not going to buy anything she can reasonably make herself, whether it’s bread, canned tomatoes or shampoo.  She is an expressive writer, full of ideas, and she's re-inspired me to cook much of my food from scratch!  The other day, we got together and made soup.  I cooked French lentil soup, she prepared Italian Wedding Soup and we split the bounty. 

Soup for the freezer!

After just a couple hours of cooking, we finished with 4 quarts of soup each.  I freeze most of my food in canning jars because I have an extra freezer, but Katie has a neat trick for storing her soup using flattened freezer bags.  Trot over to her blog and see how she did it!

French Lentil Soup

Makes about 5 quarts

¾ to 1-pound mild chicken Italian sausage
1 T olive oil (if necessary)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium red potatoes, diced
3 cups French lentils
12 cups broth or water
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Apple cider vinegar to taste.
  1. Sauté Italian sausage in a large soup pot until brown.  Remove.  If necessary, add olive oil until fat in pan equals 1 tablespoon.  Brown onions slowly over medium low heat for about 20 minutes or until they start to turn the color of caramel.
  2. Add garlic, basil and oregano and sauté 30 seconds, or until the garlic becomes fragrant but not brown.
  3. Deglaze pan with 2 cups of broth.  Add carrot, potato, lentils and remaining 10 cups of broth.
  4. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down heat to low and simmer for about 50 minutes until the lentils are soft but not falling apart.
Serve with a splash of apple cider or balsamic vinegar.



  1. This soup looks simple to make and delicious! Love your blog!


  2. This looks lovely! I hope I might be able to try it before it gets too hot here in AZ for anything but gazpacho!
    The pics are amazing, and I am very jealous of the cooking party.

  3. I can vouch for just how delicious it was (and will be thanks to the freezer), plus it was a lot of fun to do together!
    Looking forward to many more cooking parties with you. :)

  4. Summer, thank you! I hope you get to try the soup!

    Allison, I'd love your recipe for gazpacho. It's rarely warm enough here (in my opinion) for cold soup but I can always give it a go!

    Katie, I know there will be many more cooking parties!

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  6. Nice post, Its looking beautiful

  7. yum- even though it is spring. I think I am going to try my hand at this soup!

  8. Yummy.. Thanks for sharing this nutritious recipe. I'll definitely try this.
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  9. I was looking for what to do with my SPROUTED lentils and here's the answer! But I beg you to read a few web pages about sprouting your beans & peas &... for 1-2 days first. Just amazing.