From: The Thorough Good Cook

Soups: 41. Lentil Soup

Pick and wash three pints of lentils, which put in a soup-pot, with a slice of lean ham blanched, a partridge, a carrot, a turnip, an onion, two leeks, and a head of celery, tied together ; add the necessary stock, and let it boil slowly for three hours ; take out the roots, the partridge, and the ham, rub the lentils through a sieve, and add some broth to the puree ; set it on to boil, and afterwards place it at the corner of the stove to clarify it by taking the scum and grease that is thrown up to the side. When serving, put it into the tureen with some bread cut into dice and fried in butter.
This is a recipe for vegetarian lentil soup, and despite my carnivorous tendancies, it has long been one of my favourite foods. It is excellent on a cold day, hopefully with some soda crackers, and a cup of tea. It can easily be doubled or tripled to feed crowds, and it looks (and tastes!) much more complicated than it is. The version i'll give you here is based on one I originally found in Laurel's Kitchen, a most excellent cookbook.

Greek Lentil Soup
Mix everything except the vinegar in a medium sized soup pot, and cook on low to medium heat until the lentils are very soft. This should take slightly over 1 hour. Remember - the lower the heat, the better the soup will taste in the end, but the longer it will take to cook.

  • 2 cups uncooked lentils (remember to clean them!)
  • 8 cups water (or vegetable stock, if you've got it...)
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped (use more, if you like. same goes for all the veggies)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small potato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons oil (i use olive oil, myself)
  • 2 bay leaves (if you've got them..)
  • 1.5 - 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar (add this after you've cooked everything else. but don't forget it, or your soup will be a tad bland.

After you'ved added your vinegar, you're ready to serve. If you're cooking for yourself, just go at it... If you're cooking for others, serve with cheese and crackers or something.

cmyr's recipe above is quite excellent, but a few notes for the sake of pedantry:

Lentil soup is perhaps even more popular in Turkey than in Greece. The Prophet reportedly said that lentils increase humility, which is why large banquets (and humble lunches) nearly always start with a bowl of lentil soup, known as mercimek çorbasi in Turkish.

The type of lentil used makes a big difference. Turks like red lentils, which cook relatively quickly and dissolve into a purée while doing so. The end result is a pleasing (and tasty!) bowl of thick, smooth yellow soup. As red lentils have a rather mild taste, go easy on the vinegar -- believe it or not, a single teaspoon is plenty for two quarts of soup.

You can also use green or brown lentils, but they will require a longer cooking time (I simmered mine 5 hours the last time around) and they will always retain some of their texture. While the end result is also quite tasty, it's definitely a vegetarian meal that is just brown gack, and probably not the type of thing you'd want to serve to guests.

You can also add various things to (brown) lentil soup to bulk it up: chick peas, tomato paste and bulgur are all popular. For spices, try basil, cayenne, coriander or mint. Lemon juice is often substituted for vinegar.

For any lentil soup, some fresh bread on the side is a nearly obligatory accompaniment. If reheating the soup, add some water to re-liquefy it.

Watch a recipe node turn into a debate node...

A characteristic of lentil soup is that, while there are many recipes, few are considered open to improvisation in the mind of people who enjoy it. Personally, I'm of the opinion that cramming lentil soup full of irrelevant vegetables such as turnips, celery and carrots does injustice to a dish that does just fine without them. While some recipes also call for rice, that makes it a completely different dish. I confess that I am religiously opposed to the use of potatoes and celery (in direct contrast to my "you can never have enough celery in a soup" mantra); many years of observing and eating Greek cooking have taught me that, at least in that country, no such items are used to defile this gloriously humble item of Mediterranean cuisine. Stalk celery, in fact, can't even be found for sale there unless they have it in some expensive place that caters to foreigners--they grow only leaf celery and celeriac, neither of which are part of this recipe. I claim this to be the genuine article.

Base ingredients:

  • 500g brown lentils (a pound will do)
  • 4 or more cloves garlic
  • 2-4 bay leaves
  • 3 or more small onions
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper


The oil is best if not strong-tasting. Anything other than olive oil is out of the question. Do NOT sautee or chop the garlic and onions, I prefer to just drop them in whole. While I'm a great fan of leeks and like to substitute them for onions, this is not a dish in which I'd use them. Onion is de rigeur and the way it's cooked lets even avid onion-haters tolerate them. Unless you use beef stock for flavour, this is a strictly vegetarian meal; ham is possible but iffy and exotic stuff such as partridge and poultry in general is, well, let's just say I wouldn't do it.

Briefly sort the lentils by hand, removing small stones and rotten lentils. Rinse the lentils until the chaff is gone. Place lentils in large pot with a bit more than enough water to cover them. Bring to the boil and boil until the water turns brown, then drain... this removes some of the tannin you really don't want to consume. Rinse as often as you think is necessary and replenish with water or stock, whichever you plan on using.

Add all other ingredients. The garlic may or may not be chopped, the onions should be used whole but can be quartered if all you have is too large to use whole. Bring to a boil again and let it boil for about 20 minutes. Cover and let simmer until ready. Depending on the lentils, this may take anything between 45 minutes and three hours. Remember that--it's for cooks with time on their hands. When it's done, the skins should slide off the lentils and the onions will be boiled through. Here's a good way of telling when it's done: squeeze the onion with a wooden spoon (the ultimate low-tech kitchen utensil) and if the middle can be squeezed out you're getting there. If the lentils start sticking it's done, period. Take it off the heat immediately.

Reheating lentil soup is not a problem. Add a bit more water and simmer for as long as it takes. The only issue is that lentils can and will stick to the bottom of the pan when reheated. Keep a close eye on it or you'll burn your leftover dinner.

Serve with chunks of fresh, real bread, not pre-packaged slices of cotton wool. Bread is as much part of the meal as the dish itself. Offer vinegar at the table for each diner to squirt on their serving according to taste. Most people are fine with two short squirts from a standard plastic bottle (I think that's roughly half a teaspoon). Extra pepper is often welcome. Don't turn up your nose at the vinegar, it can make all the difference between an "okay" meal and a really tasty one.

Feeds six (four if you've invited me) and makes good leftovers.

CrowJane's Lentil Soup: I find this is best done in a crock pot, because I have the attention span of a goldfish.

Set your crock pot on high, and fill it with lentils, and whatever amount of water is specified on the bag for rehydration. Weirdly, as with rice, this varies by brand.

While your lentils are fluffing, chop and sautee the onion and the garlic in a separate pan with the olive oil. when you can see through the onion, turn off the heat and add the spices to the oil. Go heavy on the pepper, here. it's supposed to make your eyes water.

Once your lentils are like unto lentils, instead of small rocks, add another 2-3 cups of water, so that the lentils are completely covered, and there is another 1/2 inch to an inch of water at the top. Go low if you want a thick soup, high if you want it thin. Then add the mixture from the other pan. Cover and let sit for an hour or so, until the lentils have picked up the flavour.

Try this. It's good. And metric, too.

Great Unified Lentil Soup

Peel and dice onion and garlic. Roast gently with 30 g of butter in a large pot.

Add diced meat, keep roasting gently.

Dice greens and spring onions, add, and let it all simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add washed lentils, cover with broth.

Add diced potatoes. Cook at medium heat for about 30 minutes.

Slice mushrooms finely and roast for 5 minutes in a pan with 20 g of butter. Then add to the soup.

Add milk, cream and tomate past; let boil for a moment.

Add lemon juice.

Add salt, pepper, paprika and curry to taste.

Serve strewn with chopped chervil and decorated with mushroom slices.


One of my friends described this meal as a “real yin-yang” meal. It doesn’t sound like much but try it and you’ll see what she meant. It’s one of the healthiest, tastiest and cheapest meals I’ve ever had, and not only is it vegetarian, it’s completely vegan. It has its origins in the mountains of North Lebanon where it’s often cooked during Lent (a Christian time of fasting during which many Lebanese people give up all meat and dairy products). It warms the soul and heart.

I’m not one to follow instructions or recipes, I usually go by taste, but here’s an attempt anyway.


200 grams brown lentils

1 cup rice

1 large onion

50 ml olive oil

1 tablespoon salt


½ cabbage

4 garlic cloves

50 ml olive oil

3 juicy lemons

1 tablespoon salt


Lentil Soup

Dice onion. Place in pot and cover in olive oil. Brown onion. Add lentils. Add about 500mls of water and salt. Boil for about 20 minutes and add washed rice. Cook for another 15 mins.

Cabbage salad

Chop cabbage really thinly. Crush garlic into a paste (hint: adding salt makes it easier). Add lemon juice and oil and mix it all in. May as well do it Lebanese style that is just use your hands.

Serve soup with a dollop of salad on top. Trust me, it’s great!

Node your homework? Fuck that. I don't want to hear about database relational algebra and you don't either. Node your dinner!

This soup is loosely based on the lentil soup found at Carrabba's. With my friend's mother being the consummate Italian that she is, Strega Umlauf locked the recipe deep into her taste buds and proceeded to recreate the concoction in her secret kitchen lair. It's a great recipe to keep on hand as the weather turns cold or if you're living on a tight budget.

1 pound Italian sausage - $4.00
1 8oz package sliced white mushrooms - $2.00
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes - $.60
1 package of Knorr's Vegetable Soup Mix - $1.50
4 14.5oz cans of chicken broth - 4 x $.65
3/4 pound of lentils -$.79
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and minced garlic to taste
olive oil, if desired to brown sausage

3 quart or better pot
can opener
wooden spoon and ladle

Time: 1.5 hours

Servings: 6 hearty bowls, more if you're less hearty.

Price: $11.49 as listed above, excluding spices


  1. If present, remove the skin from sausage with your knife.
  2. In a 3+ quart pot, use a half dollar size amount of oil, brown sausage using medium-high heat (half way between medium and high).
  3. When sausage is almost done browning, add mushrooms. You may add salt, pepper and/or garlic at this point.
  4. When sausage is browned, add dry soup mix. Stir contents of pot and immediately open your can of diced tomatoes.
  5. Pour the entire can of diced tomatoes into the pot.
  6. Open and add all 4 cans of chicken broth.
  7. Stir pot occasionally until it comes to a low boil.
  8. Add lentils.
  9. When the soup begins to boil again, cover pot and allow it to vent. Reduce heat to medium.
  10. Cook, stirring occasionally for an hour, or until lentils are tender. Be aware that as the lentils boil, the soup will grow more and more brown. Not your fault.


  • Adding more or less lentils will make the soup thicker or thinner, respectively. Adding more lentils has the added benefit of increasing your soup to dollars ratio.
  • If your soup appears to turn out too thick, add in more water. Start with about 1/2 can and see if that works for you.
  • If you don't like pork sausage, you can make your own sausage with any ground meat, fennel and crushed red pepper to taste.
  • One thing that makes this an outstanding cold weather treat is the extra kick you get from the Italian sausage and red pepper. If Italian sausage is as spicy as you like to get, skip the red pepper. About a teaspoon of crushed red pepper will make the soup appreciably spicy without being overwhelming. YMMV.
  • Unless you're feeding the area rugby team, you'll have leftovers. Luckily, this dish stores very well and can be frozen for another day.

Or what to cook when you have limited finances and only basic cooking utensils.

There are hundreds of variations on lentil soup, which is hardly surprising, given the ubiquity and versatility of lentils, and that people have been making it for millennia. Lentils are mentioned in the Bible, you see. This version tastes as if the Middle East has met the Indian subcontinent, warmed by the cumin and sharpened by the lemon. And that lemon is all important, slicing through the sunbaked feel of the lentils and cumin.

It's doubtful that this will cost you any more than £1.50 (≅ US$2.20; AU$3.20) to produce, and requires equipment no more glamourous than a sharp knife, a pan of sufficient capacity, and a wooden spoon. With some bread, some cheese, and some fruit you've a complete meal. Worth trying? Well, we think so.

Ingrediments to serve four


Heat the oil in a stockpot, or the pan that you use to make soup, add the onion and garlic and fry until the onion is transluscent, which should be three or four minutes.

Whilst the onion and garlic is cooking, rinse your lentils. How much attention this demands is dependent on the state of your lentils, for us it is no more than placing them in a sieve and holding them under the cold tap. When the onion is ready, add the lentils. Stir everything about quickly and then add the stock. Grate in the lemon zest, add the cumin, season, and stir.

Cover the stockpot and leave to cook on the lowest flame for between 30 and 45 minutes, or until the lentils have collapsed but the soup is still a soup, not a puree.

Finish the soup with the lemon juice and serve with a drizzle of olive oil if you're that way inclined.


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