I’ve had a few readers indicate that while my recipes look great, they personally don’t have time to execute many of the dishes I write about. Believe me, I know how that goes! During the weeknights, I make quick and healthy dinners that take less than 30 minutes to prepare, but I usually don’t convert them into actual recipes. When I am cooking, I add handful of this and a handful of that, a pinch of this and a pinch of that, and never really measure. So for those friends, I took careful notes during one of my weeknight recipes, and this week I’m sharing a simple and healthy meal that’s perfect for Meatless Monday: Easy French Lentil Soup.
This lentil soup is made with precooked, French green lentils that I purchased from Trader Joe’s. The lentils are steamed then vacuum-packed, retaining all their vitamins and nutrients. I prefer French green lentils over regular green lentils because they retain their shape in soup without getting mushy. Typically when I make lentil soup, I add roasted tomatoes, but doing so adds more cooking time. So in this recipe, I used tomato paste to add a rich, slow-cooked taste. The addition of the mushrooms and Parmigiano-reggiano give the dish an umami finish. The soup is even popular with the kids. Enjoy!
Easy Lentil Soup
Serving Size: 4
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
4 ounces of cremini or button mushrooms, chopped into 1/4″ pieces (about 2/3 cups)
1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Freshly grated black pepper
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 1/2 cups of Trader Joe’s Steamed French Lentils* or cooked French lentils
3 cups of vegetable stock or low-sodium chicken stock
Freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano, for serving
Chopped Italian parsley, for serving
1. Heat a 2-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, chopped onions, garlic, and bay leaf. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the onions have softened.
2. Add the carrots, mushrooms, thyme, red pepper flakes, pinch of salt, and a couple turns on the pepper mill. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the water has been drawn out of the mushrooms.
3. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 1/2 minute to caramelize the tomato paste.
4. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.
5. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer. Simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes.
6. The soup will be ready once the carrots are soft and broth has thickened. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
7. Remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup in to 4 bowls. Grate some Parmigiano-reggiano and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with a sliced and toasted sourdough bread.
*Here is the package of the pre-cooked lentils.