Oh-So-Simple French Lentil Soup

This super simple French lentil soup is a perfect meal for a cold winter’s night: hearty, nourishing, and incredibly easy to make!

Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping

We’re reaching the height of the winter holiday season, and at this point many of us are feeling a little frazzled, a little harried, and more than a little ready for things to slow down. I don’t know about you, but the more effort I make to stay grounded, the more able I am to fully experience the meaning and warmth of this season. For me, staying grounded means getting enough sleep, spending time on my yoga mat, and soulful, simple cooking. This simple French lentil soup is exactly the kind of recipe I crave at this time of year: a hearty, grounding, nourishing meal that demands little more than some hands-off simmering.

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 you have. You can finish the soup with a splash of vinegar, a drizzle of olive oil, or–if you’re feeling a little fancy–some sherry. That’s it.


Other additions, such as leafy greens, won’t hurt. Neither will crushed or diced tomatoes, curry powder, vegan yogurt, lemon juice or zest, or a host of other optional additions. But no matter how you choose to play with the recipe over time, the backbone can remain the same: vegetables, lentils, stock, herbs, and time.

Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping
Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping

One of my challenges with lentil soup in the past has been that lentils can get stuck to the bottom of a soup pot; this is truest for red lentils, at least in my experience, but it can happen with any lentil, not to mention split peas (another favorite legume). When I made a pot of this soup last night, I used my GreenLife cookware 5-quart covered stockpot. I love using this pot for soups and stews: it’s durable, light (which means it’s easy to store and move around the kitchen as needed), and I love the deep burgundy color!

Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping

No sticking means no scrubbing or soaking after cooking. An easy cooking process and minimal cleanup are just a few reasons that I love my cookware from GreenLife. I also love that the brand is budget-friendly and on a mission to help introduce cooks of all ages and experience levels to the fun of cooking. If you’re just starting to build your own kitchen repertoire, this soup is an accessible and rewarding recipe to start with.

Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping
5 from 4 votes

Oh-So-Simple French Lentil Soup

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 4 servings (recipe can be doubled)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup French lentils substitute green/brown lentils or pardina lentils
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A few sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Splash of sherry balsamic, or white wine vinegar, or splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Optional: 1/4 cup sherry 4 cups baby spinach or chopped greens, toast, vegan parmesan topping or my hempesan, nutritional yeast


  • 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.
  • 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. 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 with a slice of toast and some vegan parmesan, my hempesan, or nutritional yeast, if desired.


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.
Simple French Lentil Soup | The Full Helping

This soup can be easily doubled to serve a crowd, or you can double it in order to freeze some (I made a double batch yesterday so that I could freeze individual servings for quick, easy lunches). And you can certainly get creative with herbs and seasonings; I’ve added rosemary, celery seed, shallots, and oregano in the past.

As with most soups, the leftovers will only become more flavorful after a couple days, and the soup will thicken in the fridge, too. This gives you the option of serving it as a dense, scoopable accompaniment to toast, or thinning it out and enjoying in a more soupy form.

It’s all up to you: what matters is that the 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.


This post is sponsored by the GreenLife brand. All opinions are my own, and I love this nonstick cookware. You can learn more about GreenLife products, purchase online, or find GreenLife near you here. Thanks for your support!

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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…

  8. 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

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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.