Lentil Soup

I know, I know. What the hell is a lentil soup recipe doing here in the lead up to Christmas? Lucy (my sister and co-crumbs author) counselled against it. “It’s the anti-Christmas recipe!” she cried. She’s right, of course, but also a little bit wrong.
We’re back to the yin and yang thing. I think you can only enjoy vast amounts of mince pies, marzipan fruit, Christmas cake, turkey etc if you’re not eating them all the time.
Also, it’s not physically possible to make, let alone eat, constant delectables in the run up to Christmas. Sometimes you just need to eat and you don’t have hours to prepare. This is the perfect thing to make when the kids are in bed, and then have it in the fridge or freezer as back up just in case brunch doesn’t quite carry you over to dinner, or the mince pies weren’t as filling as you thought. It means you (or your children) are not constantly tucking into the Quality Street etc for sustenance, when all you fancy is something a little bit nutritious. It also freezes really well, so I’m taking a batch to the in-laws in Wales, this Christmas, so that I know the kids will get a square meal if their eating timetable doesn’t quite slot in to ours.
And not only is it a practical solution to holes in the Christmas eating plan, it is also bloody delicious! Rich, creamy, warming and nutritious, kids love it too. It’s from The Little Dish Recipe Book which is turning into one of my favourite family friendly cookery books.
Lentil Soup
Start to finish: 20 minutes preparation, 35-40 mins cooking time
Serves: family of four with leftovers
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 400g tin tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon of thyme leaves
200g dried Puy lentils, rinsed
Black pepper
2 pints of vegetable stock
360ml water
1.5 tsp balsamic vinegar
Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. Add onion, carrots, pepper and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Stir occasionally until vegetables begin to soften, add garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme and cook for one minute. Stir in lentils and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce heat, cook for 8-10 minutes, until veg have softened.
Take lid off, increase heat and add vegetable stock and water. Boil and cover partially with lid, reduce heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender. Discard bay leaf.
Then puree about three quarters of the soup with a hand blender (or just do the whole lot, but only roughly, to save on washing up). Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook for a further 5 minutes. I stirred in a little creme fraiche at the end.
Top tips: This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance, just cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Leftovers can be frozen.


  1. Ooh, I don’t know about the anti-Christmas thing… To me, a nice bowl of lentil soup with a few chestnuts thrown in and a chunk of Stilton on the side seems eminently suitable for this time of year x

  2. these are dried, not tinend lentils?…do you rinse dried lentils…?

  3. that word above should be “tinned” by the way…

  4. I think it is good as it is supposed to get all the dust off. Otherwise a scum can form on top. Yuk. Lucy

  5. Absolutely – no man, woman or child can live by shortbread and Quality St alone (even though it’s tempting to try. Absolutely torrential rain and storms here, definitely soup weather (on midsummer day, fabulous!)

  6. I love lentils. Also been having a look at your 10min recipes – sounds great. Gonna try the chicken and broccoli one. Yummy.

  7. Do try the chicken and broccoli! You’ll find it becomes a staple.

  8. I love lentils. They are a staple here in the Basque country along with beans! Recently I’ve been playing about with a lentil, squash (bought by the slice) and carrot soup. Delicious!

  9. My mother (and now me) always made a similar recipe but with chorizo. Next time add a chorizo sausage or two (the proper cooking sausages, not chorizo-style though!) and don’t blend any of it, see what you think. You can also add quartered potatoes to bulk it up… The next day my mother would blend any leftovers for a different type of soup.


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