Hearty Vegan French Lentil Soup
4.27 from 15 votes

This vegan French lentil soup recipe is easy and quick to make. It’s a nourishing soup for dinner that’s filling, and great with a slice of toast. French lentils are smaller and rounder than brown and green lentils. They’re also a little firmer and hold their shape well when cooked, which makes them an excellent addition in soups, salads, and grain bowls, too

A cream colored soup bowl has been filled with a plant-based, French lentil soup.

This simple French lentil soup is exactly the kind of recipe I that I crave during the holiday season. It’s warming, grounding, nourishing, and—best of all—it’s so easy to make.

The recipe is so simple that it barely necessitates a formal recipe. The measurements don’t have to be precise, as long as you use about a quart of broth or water for every cup of lentils.

Other than that, you begin by sautéing some onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. You add lentils, liquid, and the herbs and seasonings that you have. You can finish the soup with a splash of vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, cashew parmesan cheese, or all of the above.

Why French lentils?

One of the first quesitons you might be asking is, why French lentils? After all, there are plenty of recipes for lentil soup that call for regular, brown or green lentils.

The answer is that I just love the texture of French lentils. They’re smaller and rounder than brown, green, or pardina lentils. They’re also a little firmer. This makes them excellent for salads and bowls. I think it also gives this soup a lot more texture than it would have otherwise!

Health benefits of lentils

It’s no big secret around here that lentils are one of my all-time favorite foods.

I love lentils for their versatility, their inexpensive cost, and—perhaps best of all—for their many health benefits.

Lentils will provide your body with B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium. A mere half cup of lentils will also supply eight grams of dietary fiber, which is a substantial portion of the RDA.

Lentils are packed with plant protein, too. That half cup portion has between eight and ten grams of protein, which will contribute to a high-protein meal when accompanied by other protein-rich ingredients.

All of these benefits are on offer in the French lentil soup. If you happen to add some greens, toast, or nutrient dense toppings (options below), you’ll only enhance the nutrition of your meal.

How to make French lentil soup

The processing of making lentil soup generally, and this French lentil soup in particular, is really easy.

I begin by sauteeing onion, carrots, and celery. I add garlic, lentils, bay leaf, thyme, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth to the pot, along with some tomato paste. The tomato paste adds umami to the recipe.

These ingredients are brought to a simmer for forty-five minutes. That’s it, pretty much. After the soup is ready, you remove the bay leaf and stir in a splash of vinegar. You can use sherry vinegar (my preference) or white balsamic. Either way, I think that the hint of acid is an essential part of the soup’s flavor.

That’s it! That is the entire process of making the French lentil soup. It’s really that easy.

However, there are a few more steps that you can take after the base of the recipe is ready. One of them is to wilt some leafy greens into the soup. This will add extra nutrient density, along with some nice texture.

No matter how you choose to play with the recipe over time, the backbone can remain the same: vegetables, lentils, stock, herbs, and time.

An angled photograph of a small, white bowl of vegetable and legume soup. It rests on a white surface.

What to serve with French lentil soup

Once the French lentil soup is ready, you can top it with some of my cashew parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, a little extra vinegar, or all of those things. Here are some additional accompaniments:

A hearty bowl of lentils, greens, vegetables and crushed cashews is served in a white bowl.

Meal prep and storage

If there’s anything that I love about soup, it’s the fact that it’s so perfect for meal prep. One pot of soup can provide almost an entire week of lunches or dinners for a single person.

This French lentil soup makes a slightly smaller batch than some of my other soups. It’s about six portions, or four larger portions. However, it’s still a good amount of food. And the soup will keep very well in the fridge for up to six days, so it’s a great thing to make as part of a weekend meal prep routine.

If you like, you can also freeze the soup instead of storing it in the fridge. When I make a batch, I usually freeze half and enjoy half of it upfront. The French lentil soup can be frozen for up to six weeks. It can also be doubled if you’re serving a crowd.

A cream colored soup bowl has been filled with a plant-based, French lentil soup.
4.27 from 15 votes

Hearty Vegan French Lentil Soup

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup French lentils substitute green/brown lentils
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few sprigs thyme (substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Splash of sherry vinegar (substitute white balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice)
  • 4 cups baby spinach or chopped greens (optional)
  • Cashew parmesan cheese (optional, for serving)
  • Toast (optional, for serving)


  • Chop the onion, carrot, and celery.
    A number of clear bowls contain chopped vegetables.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Saute, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.
    Onion, carrot, and celery is being sautéed in a gray pot.
  • Add the tomato paste, lentils, broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer the soup for 45 minutes.
    A gray soup pot is filled with broth, a bay leaf, and lentils.
  • 5 minutes before the soup is ready, you can add the sherry and finish simmering the soup uncovered. You can also add baby spinach or chopped greens, stir them into the soup, and simmer uncovered for the final 5 minutes of cooking time.
  • Add the vinegar or lemon juice to the soup. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. If you’d like the soup to be thinner, add a bit of water to the pot. Serve the French lentil soup with a slice of toast and some cashew parmesan cheese, if desired.
    A large gray pot contains a vegan lentil soup, which also has kale in it.


Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It can be frozen for up to 1 month.
A round, cream colored bowl with a light brown rim holds a heaping cup of red brown lentil soup. Some spinach is wilted into the soup.

As with most soups, the leftovers will only become more flavorful after a few days. Tastier and tastier—those are my kind of leftovers!

I hope that the French lentil soup warms you up, fills your belly, and makes you feel grounded. That, at least, is what it always does for me. Enjoy the recipe.


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Categories: Recipes, Soups
Method: One Pot
Ingredients: Lentils
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: 30 Minute or Less, Meal Prep, Quick & Easy

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Recipe Rating

  1. Hi Gena,
    Looking forward to making this. I am going to double the recipe will the soup still cook in 45 minutes or do I need to add some extra time for the additional lentils and broth after they come to a boil.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Robin! The soup should take about the same amount of time, as the lentils will cook at the same rate no matter the amount. However, lentils can vary in cooking time based on their age, among other factors. So I recommend you start checking at 45 min and add 10 minutes at a time till they’re just the way you like. Enjoy.

  2. Just made it and it was delicious! We used pardina lentils, and balsamic vinegar, and had with homemade croutons. Even my 3 year old loved it!

  3. Loved the flavors in this and how easy it was to make. The sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, and tomato paste really contribute a bright flavor to the dish.

  4. I love your ideas for playing with the base recipe! I was wondering what purpose the tomato paste serves? Beyond flavor, that is! I’m allergic to nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc), and I want to try this without the tomato paste while not compromising the texture or other non-flavor aspects. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Love lentils, so this is a must make. And I actually have a little bit of a bottle of red wine left, so will add that instead of the sherry. Should be yummy. Thanks 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    I made this recipe this Monday and let is sit in the fridge till Wednesday evening. Amazing! So simple and so flavorful. I did switch it up a bit and added a full head of dino kale, a bit more liquid, and topped it with a sprinkle of feta. So good! I will be making this again.

  7. This looks delicious! I do have one question, is the optional ¼ cup sherry..more vinegar or sherry wine? Thanks!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this last night, and it was really good! I modified a slight bit based on what I had on hand…. mixture of brown, french and red lentils, extra chunks of celery and carrot in addition to the finely diced mirepoix, extra garlic and extra minced fresh thyme, and a dash of smoked paprika…. I added the optional greens with some chopped lacinato kale stirred in at the end that I needed to use up, and used balsamic vinegar for the acid. Simple and so good! I can’t wait to try it today now that it’s sat in the fridge…

  9. This sounds so lovely Gena! You really made me realize how simple a vibrant pot such as this can be – I often see all of the small components that make up the big picture and they scare me away from thinking it can be a weeknight meal. But it really can! Aren’t lentils just incredible? The most versatile protein, I just love them so much. I hope you are staying warm over there in NYC girl! And have the merriest Christmas <3

    Ps. Did you update your site design recently?! I just noticed and LOVE IT. <3

  10. 5 stars
    We made this last night! Deliciously hearty but super simple. I’m a big fan of the “just throw it in” recipe method and like a fair big of variation so this is perfect. Thanks so much!

  11. Thanks Gena–I love this kind of simplicity as well–and I love lentils! You are reminding me this would be an easy meal to make and have ready after a brisk low tide walk on the beach–thank you!! Just great for when my kids get here. Good advice about grounding too–here’s to sleep, yoga practice and simple soulful food. xoxo

  12. That looks so good, I’ll have to try it out! I remember when I was skint in Colombia i would eat a ton of lentil soup…may have to get back on it!

  13. Oh thanks so much for this. I just went vegan a few weeks ago and am always looking for new recipes, and I bought a huge bag of carrots today. So…I’ll be making this for dinner tonight 🙂 Looks lovely. And great blog, btw.