Easy French Lentil Soup

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
Sea salt
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.

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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.

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3. Add the tomato paste and stir for about 1 1/2 minute to caramelize the tomato paste.

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4. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add the chicken stock and cover the pot with a lid. Bring to a boil.

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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.

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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.

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*Here is the package of the pre-cooked lentils.

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