I love this French lentil soup for its many layers of flavor: the smokiness of the bacon, earthiness of the lentils, sweetness of the onions and carrots, and acidity of the tomatoes. It’s made with French green lentils (lentilles du Puy), which hold their shape when cooked and thicken the soup without turning it to sludge (which is, sadly, the fate of most lentil soups).
You can find French green lentils in the bulk section at Whole Foods or other specialty food shops. They are definitely worth going out of your way to find but don’t worry if you can’t get them — common green or brown lentils will work fine. Just watch the cooking time as they can get mushy.
Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.
Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.
Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils).
Using an immersion blender, purée the soup a little bit at a time until the broth is slightly thickened. Go easy — if you purée the soup too much, it will get too thick and you’ll lose the integrity of the lentils. If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply transfer a few cups of the soup to a standard blender and purée, then return the blended soup to the pot.
Season to taste and adjust the consistency if necessary (the soup tends to thicken as it sits, so you may need to add some water).
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
My Recipe Videos
French Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Bacon
- 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth, best quality such as Swanson
- 1 cup French lentils (lentilles du Puy), or common brown or green lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- A few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils). Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until the broth is slightly thickened, or to desired consistency. (Be careful not to purée too much or the soup will get too thick, and you'll lose the integrity of the lentils.) If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the blended soup to the pot. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired and serve. (Note: The soup may thicken as it sits; thin with a bit of water if necessary.)
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Serving size: about 1 3/4 cups each
- Calories: 318
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Sugar: 8g
- Fiber: 12g
- Protein: 17g
- Sodium: 878mg
- Cholesterol: 17mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.