French Lentil and Vegetable Soup


One of Bobbi Brown's winter staples — this hearty lentil soup from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook — gets its robust flavor from small, green French lentils. Also called Le Puy lentils, they're less starchy than common brown lentils. Look for French lentils at specialty shops.

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
8 to 10 servings


  • 1 pound French green lentils, picked over and rinsed

  • Boiling water

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • 3 large onions, chopped

  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 large leeks, white and tender green parts only, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 8 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 6 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 3 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, leeks, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper, thyme, and cumin and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.

  3. Add the celery and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils to the pot. Increase the heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to moderate, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 1 hour. Stir in the red wine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Make Ahead

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let return to room temperature and reheat gently, adding more stock to adjust the consistency if necessary.

Suggested Pairing

This earthy soup needs a forthright, gutsy red with an earthiness of its own, like a Malbec from Argentina.

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