Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

French Lentil Soup

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French Lentil Soup, Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

French lentils are the best. These blue and green speckled babies have an exceptionally rich flavor and remain comparatively firm after cooking. In other words, no more mushy lentils! For me, they’re difference between eating an over boiled, starchy potato and a perfectly baked one.

Their firmness makes them unique in the lentil universe and the ideal choice for salads – and in my opinion, soups because they hold their form so nicely. They take a little bit longer to cook, which works out great with soups or stews because your herbs, seasonings and veggies have more time to stew and flavor up a nice broth.


Of course there are a million ways to make lentil soup and I think I might just love them all, but at the moment, this is my new favorite recipe. What makes this soup so great is the broth. It’s just so rich! The trick was using a tomato base, and I know it’s going to sound weird, but I also added miso paste and Worcestershire sauce to create the kind of smoky flavor that is often hard to achieve in vegetarian soups. I incorporated diced herbs and onions into the soup itself and then also put together a little herb packet for extra flava. So incredible…


Love the chunky carrots – don’t want to skimp on those!

I made a GIANT pot of this soup a couple weeks ago with the full intention of freezing most of it, but in the end, it was just so delicious that I had to feed it to as many people as possible. (Lunch for all the guys at the Makr Studio, and what was left, Jason happily devoured over the course of the week. Lentil soup for breakfast? Hey, do what ya gotta do, honey)


Okay, this post is really making me crave this soup now…Luckily I did manage to put a one small baggie of it in the freezer… so guess what we’ll be having for dinner!


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Prep + cook time: 1 hour This recipe includes instructions for an herb/seasoning packet for extra flavor. You can skip that step and just add the herbs directly to the pot, omitting the use of black peppercorn balls. P.S. Like most soups, this one is even better the next day!

You need:

  • 2 cups rinsed and drained French Lentils
  • 3 med sized carrots
  • 1 cup tomatoes (stewed in can or fresh)
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried tarragon
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Few sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons miso paste dissolved in hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorn balls (ONLY if making herb packet, omit otherwise.)


  1. Peel and cut carrots diagonally about 1/4 inch thick. Peel and mince garlic. Dice 1/2 your fresh herbs (reserve other half for herb packet). Chop onion and tomatoes (if using fresh tomatoes). Add oil to large pot over medium heat. Sauté onions and carrots until they start to brown a little. Add tomatoes, garlic, tarragon, diced herbs, paprika. Stir and cook covered for a few minutes. Then add water, Worcestershire sauce, lentils, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. While soup heats to a boil, you can prepare your seasoning packet! Double two layers of cheese cloth large enough to contain herbs (refer to image in post). Place 2 bay leaves, black peppercorn balls and remaining sprigs of fresh herbs in the center of the cloth and tie up like a tight little package.
  3. Once soup is boiling, uncover and reduce heat to a simmer. Ladle a small amount of hot broth into a small bowl or cup and mix/dissolve miso paste into it. Add dissolved miso paste to pot and stir. Add herb packet to pot and cook covered for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until lentils are tender.
  4. If the soup looks too thin, uncover and simmer for a couple more minutes. If it looks too thick, add a touch more water. Serve with good, crusty bread!



  1. Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

    Sunday Supper! Thanks for the inspiration!

    E.A.T. local E.A.T. well

  2. Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:50 AM | Permalink

    This looks amazing! Going to be making this during the weekend for sure!

  3. Posted October 15, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    This looks fantastically warming, perfect for the colder months! Mmmm. I’ve been on a bean kick too, so I’ll have to throw this together some night :D

  4. Posted October 15, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    This looks like a great soup recipe. The miso and worcestershire sauce combo sounds like a great solution for flavor.

  5. Posted October 16, 2010 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    These lentils are my favorite too. I’ve pretty much stopped buying any other kind and this soup is really similar to one I’ve made countless times as well. So hearty and comforting, delicious and easy to prepare. I’ve never tried the miso/worch combo…. might have to give that a whirl.

  6. Will
    Posted October 17, 2010 at 9:14 AM | Permalink

    Sounds delicious! Not *technically* vegetarian, though, with the anchovies in the worcestershire sauce. Any thoughts on a substitution, or just leave it out?

  7. gabi
    Posted October 17, 2010 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    Oh wow, good catch on that! I always forget worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it! Definitely leave it out. Add some malt vinegar as a sub if you like and still use the miso paste.

  8. Posted October 18, 2010 at 2:45 AM | Permalink

    I love french lentils and often make soup. I love this and I love that you added miso. I’ll def try that soon. As for the worchestershire sauce, there are vegan versions (Annie’s makes a version).

  9. Posted October 18, 2010 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    Sounds delish! Would it be wrong to eat lentils for dinner all week? Between this recipe and the new one on Sprouted Kitchen, all I can think about are lentils!

  10. Posted October 18, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    This looks wonderful! Your pictures are beautiful, I can’t wait to try this =)

  11. Posted October 27, 2010 at 11:33 PM | Permalink

    I made this soup and it is AMAZING!!! I can’t wait to eat leftovers for the 4th time! YUM!

  12. Posted October 28, 2010 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Oh, my. It’s not even 10am yet, and I suddenly have such a craving for French lentil soup. Your photos are gorgeous — thanks for sharing with us.

  13. Posted November 4, 2010 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    Lentil soup is my absolute favourite. This looks delish.

  14. Posted November 8, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    This looks and sounds incredible! A perfect fall and winter soup, can’t wait to try your recipe, thanks!

  15. Reiling
    Posted November 16, 2010 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

    HI Gabi,

    My mom is Japanese and she always adds miso after heat is turned off so the live enzymes in miso stay alive and supposedly work for our health. I am not sure if all miso contains live culture/live enzymes, but mine does, and I wonder if is it OK miso is added at the end? will the flavor of the soup compromised?

    Thank you!

  16. gabi
    Posted November 16, 2010 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Very interesting about the live enzymes, Reiling. I’ve never heard that before…time for me to do some research I guess. I’m sure that adding the miso at the end like that would be fine as long as you still dissolve it first in some broth or hot water so it doesn’t get clumpy. Go for it!

  17. Mitra
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    This was fantastic – we are having an unusually cold week down in Sydney (summer time) and I came across your recipe – made it last night and can’t stop eating it since then :). Miso adds a very nice touch; thank you very much for sharing it.

  18. Posted December 30, 2010 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    Blame this post for this newest convert to your blog. I can almost taste this soup right now… brilliant.

  19. Jocelyn Wilson
    Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    I love french lentils, they are magnificent. I make something close to this but I use a few shallots, leeks, dried porchini mushrooms and finish with red wine. The miso bit sounds intriguing and I will try it next time.

  20. Posted February 21, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    Great soup, I’ve made a few changes (no miso around), but it still tasted great. I like the Worcestershire sauce in it- great addition. Thanks!

  21. Paula
    Posted May 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    I just came across your blog and this recipe. It’s all so beautiful. I made this last night for dinner and will be eating it for lumch today. Mmmmmmmm

  22. Franchesca
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

    What beautiful photography. I’m headed out to pick up the ingredients that I don’t already have to make this tonight.

  23. Posted March 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Really great simple recipe. I didn’t have any Miso unfortunately but it was great regardless. My 4 and 8 year old had second helpings!

  24. Tracy Pell
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    Love, love, love

  25. Alex Gerace
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    I did not use the Worcestershire Sauce and Miso because I am doing a cleanse and the soup was still fantastic! Thank you for the simple, incredibly delicious recipes!

  26. Dave Granvold
    Posted January 7, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Wow! This may be our favorite soup yet. I used a small mixture of tomato paste and soy sauce for the miso paste. Yummy! I can’t wait for lunch. Thanks for the great recipe and beautiful photos and nice clean recipes and site design/layout.

  27. Posted November 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    This soup is gorgeous – so comforting. Perfect for this time of year. Thank you for posting it.

  28. Lauren
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    Absolutely lovely! I will make this today. Q- I do t have any stewed tomatoes on hand – just paste and purée. Ok to sub?

  29. gabi
    Posted February 17, 2015 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

    Hi Lauren –
    I think it’ll taste just fine with a combo of puree and a scoop of paste for richness. I like the stewed tomatoes for the chunkiness, but I’m sure you’ll be fine with the substitution. Thanks for writing.

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