My French-themed week is continuing with a surprisingly simple recipe for French Lentil and Spinach Soup. I always expect French recipes to be long and complicated, but this one doesn’t look that way. It’s packed with fresh vegetables, green lentils, and (of course) red wine. There aren’t a ton of spices, so I’m expecting the flavors of the lentils and veggies to really shine through. And it’s vegetarian with the parmesan cheese or easily vegan if you skip it or use vegan cheese. This fits in with my French theme and eating less meat. I can’t wait to try it!
There comes a time during each holiday season in which I need a gastronomical break from sugar, butter, spices, and alcohol. During those times, all I want are monastically seasoned leafy greens, and maybe some legumes. This soup is my current favorite palate cleanser.
This recipe has a fair amount of ingredients, and I did have a few on hand. Things like the red wine, mustard, and tomato paste. I even had the vegetable stock on hand, but not quite enough. I had about 4 cups, so I added 2 cups of water to balance it out since the recipe said I could use water or vegetable stock.
Most of what I had to buy was fresh produce plus the lentils. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find French green lentils de puy at any of my local grocery stores. I finally gave up and settled for plain green lentils. I could have ordered them online, but they were at least twice as much as they plain green lentils, and I just didn’t want to wait for them to be delivered. Next time I’ll know to plan ahead.
There was a good amount of chopping to be done, but it didn’t take me too long (just 9 minutes). I diced the onion, carrot, and fennel while the olive oil heated in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Then I let it cook as I prepped the rest of the ingredients.
Making this recipe went according to the instructions, but I did change one thing. After I added the vegetable stock and water, I turned the heat up to high and brought the soup to a boil before turning to down to low to simmer. I’m not sure that was the right thing to do as it wasn’t specified in the instructions. It’s more of a habit. Also, the lentils were starting to fall apart after simmering for 30 minutes, so I skipped the extra 10 minutes specified after adding the salt.
Speaking of lentils, I soaked mine the day before I made this soup for 8 hours. I intended to soak them for 4 hours and make the soup the same day, but life happened. Fortunately, I read that soaked lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Thank goodness! Although, I will probably skip the soaking step next time. I’m getting impatient in my old age LOL!
All in all, this recipe did take a while, but most of the time is inactive (simmering and soaking). Here’s how my time broke down:
- 9 minutes to prep
- 55 minutes to cook
- 1 hour 4 minutes total