Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Lentil Soup 1

I had a strong hankering for Lentil Soup. As a matter of fact, I have had this hankering since I had some in Detroit recently.

Winter is soup season, and it is definitely winter here: temp 7°F.

I found a few good recipes and thought I would work through them.  So… here is the first.

So, you start with the basics, also called “the holy trinity”, onion, carrot, celery. French mirepoix is the common term. With garlic, as today, it is called the soffritto in Italian.  The German is even more appropriate: Suppengrün.

So, a medium onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks with the greens, 3 big cloves of garlic and a good slosh of olio nuovo.


Sautee for a while, about 1o, with salt and pepper.


Add a can of diced tomato.  Reduce for about 10, stirring.


Measure out a pound of green lentils.


Mix the lentils into the mixture.



Add your broth.  One of those big cans and another half.  I am using low salt broth.  I’ll season to taste.

Sprigs of thyme.



Time to reduce it!  I suppose I’ll simmer it for about an hour.

Later, I’ll add some pasta.

It’s soup season!


I will use some of the soup itself to thicken it up.  There are various ways to thicken liquids, such as liasons or a roux or starches or bread.  Another way, though it can separate, is to take a little of the veg and broth and puree it and rejoin it.  The fibers act as a kind of “thickener”.



After I added the pureed veg, I tossed in a cup of elbow macaroni, not just the regular stuff, but a “veggie” version, hopefully more flavorful and interesting to see.

More later.


Finished with a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano and a drizzle of nuovo olive oil.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Andrew says:

    Papae! Laudo edulium hujusmodi quod ventris rabiem optime mitigat.

  2. Elizabeth D says:

    That looks very good. I have lentils and need to do something like this.

  3. Priam1184 says:

    Personally I would add some leeks to your soffritto, sweat everything in a bit of bacon fat, and throw in a ham hock, but that is just me. Yours sounds pretty yummy Father.

  4. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I must try that recipe, Father. The tomato seems a good idea.
    Perhaps it’s obvious in US usage, but is the ‘broth’ a meat stock? (Beef?) Or a tinned vegetable stock/soup? [There is a distinction between broth and stock. For hearty soups I will usually use stock, but I was following a recipe this time.]
    I like the brown lentils for this soup: sometimes I add cubes of potato to the carrots and onions (and sometimes sliced leek), and I often stir in some wine vinegar and extra parsley into the servings for an extra zing. By coincidence I made some yesterday.

  5. Lin says:

    7 degrees!!!!

  6. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I’ve been making a lot of soup in my crockpot, and it really is fun and easy and tasty to make soup from semi-scratch. Of course, it’s all just for me, so any experiments that end weirdly will still get eaten….

    The other day I made fish soup (for Friday or any other yummy day!) with some cheap frozen fillets, some chicken broth and milk, some veggies, and fennel I got from the store. Apparently while you eat or cook the fennel bulb, the done thing is to chop and use the stalks and leaves in a soup so nothing is wasted. And boy, that is really good stuff in a soup! It doesn’t taste anything like you’d picture (ie, nothing like fennel seeds). It’s a very springlike vegetable for something you buy in autumn or winter! [Oh yes! Fennel is great. Try pieces of it raw dipped like a chip in mayonaisse.]

  7. abasham says:

    Lentil soup is one of my absolute favorites! I have a pound of lentils in the cupboard for the upcoming weeks! This is pretty similar to what I do, though I usually use it for a nice heavy meal full of protein when meat is a no-go during Lent. As a traditional Jewish mourning/penitential meal I think it fits the season. I always add potatoes and mushrooms, which really compliment the earthiness of lentils. But when its not a meatless day the best thing to do is add some nice beef or Italian sausage and replace the broth with a nice stout, porter, or brown ale.

  8. jfk03 says:

    Minus the olive oil, this is a very good fasting recipe. Very appropriate for the Nativity Fast and for Great Lent. It is nutritious and good for you.

  9. Alaina says:

    My mother taught me how to make lentils in the Italian and Lebanese traditions. It always interests me how food transcends cultures. If it is not going to be a stand alone soup, my family makes this with rice or pasta that has been cooked separately. For the New Year, it’s Italian lentils. We add Italian bulk sausage. For either tradition, my mother always said to add the onions first so that they caramelize. It gives great flavor, especially if you are going meatless that day. Well, I know what we are having for dinner Friday!

  10. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you for this! I was just thinking it has been too long since I cooked a lentil dish…

    I had in fact been wonder what I might do with green lentils, though also remembering that Naomi Goodman in the Good Book Cook Book (1995) has a delicious recipe for what the “red pottage” of Genesis 25:29-34 may have been like, with onion, garlic, (vegetable) bouillon, red lentils, and a choice of spinach/young sorrel/purslane, seasoned with ground cumin and coriander (fried with the onion in olive oil to start with), cooked for 15-30 minutes before adding the spinach (or whichever) for the last 5 to 10 minutes.

  11. mburduck says:

    Hmmm, hmmm! Save a bowl for me, Father. I’ll be right over! After we finish dining we can head to the pistol range!

    Mike [It’s a deal.]

  12. Poustinik1 says:

    yum. Okay if you are in a hurry here is a never fail. Make the mirapoix or soffrito and towards the last five minutes add thick slices of crimini mushrooms to soften and share flavors. Then add one package straight from the cold deli fridge of Trader Joes. $2.99 a package and you can freeze the rest if you don’t want to use whole package. These (already seasoned) packages keep in fridge unopened for several months – great to have on hand or if you run out of dried lentils. Serve on a bed of cooked brown rice (cooked in broth is even better) and a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top. On an abstinence free day, I often add sauteed ground lamp or beef. Very earthy and de-lish and left-overs taste great the next day.

  13. teomatteo says:

    Father Z. Do you have/used a handheld ‘stick’ blender?. We like our Cuisinart one. Does a fast job of thickening. Less mess. put it on your list if u want. [Thanks for that offer! I do have one, but it is in a box in my storage unit. I don’t have a lot of room here.]

  14. rcg says:

    This is a tasty soup. I use a submersible blender because running hot soup through a food processor or blender can cause hot splatters. I also use either a crock pot slow cooker if I have time or a pressure cooker if I do not. I sometimes use broth from the Thamksgiving turkey. Of course the taste is different. Have not had much separation that a nice warm up and stip can’t fix.

  15. frahobbit says:

    Thanks for this tasty visual. I am currently experimenting with a new rice cooker. I use low salt canned potato leek soup as a start, and add instant grits to thicken it, and chicken if I want to make it a main meal. Good rice cookers make lots more than rice. Eggs frittata, chicken, even carrot cake. I am experimenting. Bon appetite, Father!

  16. Priam: add some leeks to your soffritto

    Sure, that sounds like a great way to do it. However, in my top entry I said that I was following a recipe.

    The next time, I will work with turnips!

  17. francy says:

    Backstory: Every year I make my own turkey stock for thanksgiving, using turkey necks or other bony parts. I use the stock to moisten the dressing and make the gravy. Always the color of chicken broth from a can or box. Some years the broth tasted much the same as if I bought it at the grocery. Why go to all that trouble doing it myself?

    This year my stock was SPECTACULAR because of a key change — this year I roasted the bones and the veggies to make the broth. Even used white wine for about half the water called for. I read that Julia Child always roasted the bones and veggies. The color of the broth this year was dark brown and when it cooled, it gelatinized from all the gelatin, marrow, and cartilage that came out of the bones. I’m sure you can find how to do this on the internet.

    Therefore my reply to Fr. Z’s recipe is make and strain out the bones and veggies from the broth, then use this “bone broth” in place of broth in cans or boxes. The soup is only as good as the ingredients. Even great veggies in the soup can produce soup lacking depth. But using a great bone broth will make a vast difference in the outcome and even be healthier. The soup will be “to die for,” as they say. You can store extra broth in glass quart jars (canning jars) in the freezer, and never have to endure weak-tasting soup again.

  18. SKAY says:

    Looks like a great recipe for lentil soup.
    So many great ideas when I make my next lentil soup–maybe tomorrow since I do not eat meat on Friday. I usually add smoked sausage — but this looks like a great soup for a meatless day.
    My “Cajun” French mother-in-law (a very good cook) taught me that the “holy trinity” was onion,
    bell pepper and celery. Perhaps at the time the French ancestors of the Cajuns of today arrived in Louisiana after being driven out of Canada by the English, carrots were not available so they just adapted to what was available.

  19. Priam1184 says:

    Lol sorry Father I make a habit of taking only what I need from recipes and then adding or taking away whatever I feel like adding or taking away. I will have to work on following the rubrics better…

  20. Your soup looks delicious, Fr Z! I made one last week, a tomato-based chicken soup…takes a whole jar of salsa and lots of shredded chicken. Top it with cheese and/or sour cream. Mmm.

  21. skvie5738 says:

    I’ve been making this exact same recipe for a couple months now, but at the end we add a splash of balsamic vinegar and of course, salt and pepper. A great soup with bread on the side. I could eat 5 bowls of it in a row!

  22. skvie5738 says: I could eat 5 bowls of it in a row!

    I made it to 3, but I know what you mean.

  23. benedetta says:

    Yummy! I make at least one soup variety, and double the bath for freezing, and sometimes two, per week. This weekend I plan to put together borscht, which I know is another one of your favorites from your posts Fr. Z. I’ve tried out different recipes, typically vegetarian. However this round I will be using a beef soup bone and see how that goes.

  24. mburduck says:

    And I will pay for the ammo and the range fees, too, Father!


  25. yatzer says:

    I have lentils and this has given me a hankering for lentil soup, so it is what we are having for dinner. I wonder if there is a run on lentils this weekend.

  26. Matins says:

    Father Z,

    When you feel like small road trip, and yet want to enjoy some good food, may I suggest this place?
    Published on Nov 27, 2013
    Fr. Leo visits Broast Chicken Specialty SNEAKY’S Chicken in Sioux City IA. Delicious food with a little BeatBox Fun at the Diocesan Youth Conference.


    A meal with real Happiness.

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