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Vegetarian French Lentil Soup

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 reousA hearty, homey soup.

This vegetarian French lentil soup recipe tastes hearty and homey, and comes packed with nourishing lentils and vegetables. Ready in about an hour, this is an easy lentil soup everyone will love.

lentil soup recipe

This lentil soup recipe is always in heavy rotation in my home. Easy to make, hearty, and filling, this vegetarian recipe makes a great lunch or dinner all on its own, or with some crusty bread and butter.

You’ll also like: Hearty Vegetarian Chili and Rosemary White Bean Soup

ingredients include carrots and celery

French Lentils, Green Lentils and All the Other Lentils

Vive la French lentil difference! French lentils — as opposed to the ordinary brown variety — are smaller and more dense, with a little less starch. French lentils, called de Puy lentils, are a variety of green lentils.

With lentils, the size and starchiness matters and will affect the final lentil soup recipe. When French lentils are cooked, they retain their shape. It is hard for these guys to break down too much, which would otherwise leave you with brown mush. In that way, they are more forgiving than brown lentils. French lentils also have a great nutty flavor.

Is Lentil Soup Good for You?

Like all lentils, these legumes are full of nutrition, loaded with fiber, iron, protein, and more. This lentil soup, which also comes chock-full of vegetables, makes a very nutritious meal.

carrots celery onion bay leaf ingredients cooking in pot

Lentil Soup: Recipe Notes

  • The base of this French lentil soup combines French lentils with the typical soup “holy trinity” of onion, carrots, and celery. From there things get a little more interesting. Tomato paste adds depth of color and a little acid, while thyme and bay leaves add more aroma and flavor.
  • Finish this soup with a generous dash of red wine vinegar and a knob of good butter. (Or skip the butter to make this a vegan lentil soup recipe!) The vinegar adds brightness and complements the saltier soup base. Butter rounds out the flavor and gives the soup a silky texture.
  • This soup recipe calls for French lentils. That said, regular brown lentils are a fine substitute.

lentil soup in bowl

How to Make This a Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe

Want to go one step further and make this vegetarian lentil soup recipe vegan? No problem. Skip the butter at the end. That’s it!

lentil soup recipe

Did you make this soup recipe? Tell us about it! You may also like:

Vegetarian French Lentil Soup Recipe

Vegetarian French Lentil Soup

A homey, hearty, easy French lentil soup that's loaded with wholesome flavor and so nourishing. The best vegetarian lentil soup you'll make -- or vegan if you leave out the butter.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: dinner, lunch, Soup
Cuisine: American, French
Keywords:: easy, French, french lentil soup recipe, lentils, soup, vegan, vegan lentil soup, vegetarian, vegetarian lentil soup recipe
Servings: 3 quarts


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound celery, peeled and chopped (leafy, pale center stalks removed)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 generous sprig of thyme
  • 1 or 2 fresh parsley stems, with leaves
  • 1 pound French lentils, or regular brown lentils
  • 2 1/2 quarts cold water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 12 turns freshly-ground black pepper
  • Pecorino-Romano cheese and freshly-chopped parsley, optional, to finish


  • Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have slightly softened. Add the tomato paste and garlic and stir constantly (so the tomato paste does not burn) for 2 minutes more. The tomato paste should coat the vegetables.
    TIP: I always buy a tube of tomato paste, not a can. The tube lasts longer, is less messy, and is better for small quantities.
  • Add the lentils, water, thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. Stir. Bring to a boil, then lower to a generous simmer. Partly cover the soup with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes.
    TIP: If, for some reason, the soup looks too thick, add a little more water and stir it to the right consistency.
  • Add the salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, and butter (if using). Taste for seasoning.
  • Fish out the bay leaves and thyme and parsley stems. Ladle into bowls and serve with grated pecorino-Romano cheese, minced parsley, and some good crusty bread.


  • Bernadette M.

    5 stars
    Made this tonight, and my husband and I both loved it. That hit of vinegar at the end was the perfect finishing touch. We’re looking forward to leftovers soon, and there was enough to freeze some too. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Unpeeled

      Fantastic! So glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the comment.

  • 5 stars
    Turned out very well. I agree with the other comment that the vinegar and butter at the end is a nice touch.

  • MP Wilson

    I have a question rather than a comment at this time.
    Can this soup be frozen successfully? Or should I make half a recipe as this would be way too much for a household of two.


    • Unpeeled

      This soup will freeze beautifully! Enjoy.

      • Thank you! Will make it Friday for dinner and freeze half for later.

  • 5 stars
    I thinned it with a little more water like the recipe suggested. delicious. The red wine vinegar and butter does add just the right hint of something!

  • Michelle

    5 stars

3.85 from 13 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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