Cook's Illustrated Hearty Lentil Soup

Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr

From the Cook's Illustrated website: Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer.
  7. Add chicken broth and water; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low.
  8. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
  9. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes.
  10. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining parsley.
Most Helpful

Allthough I enjoyed this soup, I thought it was a tad heavy on the balsamic vinegar....enough for me to add about 1 cup more water to thin it down. I did add 1/2 a package of frozen spinach, as I had it sitting in my fridge, needing to be used up. I would do this recipe again!! Thanks for posting!!

Abby Girl February 11, 2010

An excellent, hearty soup! I didn't have bacon but recreated some of the smoky flavor from minced chiptoles. I also didn't have the white wine. Still, this is a very satisfying soup, feels more like a stew. I have a feeling it will be even better tomorrow. Thanks for posting!

LaJuneBug June 20, 2009

Agree, too much balsamic vinegar. Start with a half teaspoon, add another half (or quarter) if you think it's necessary. Easy recipe, quick if you use French Lentils. Common green or grey lentils will need two or three times as much simmering time., depending on how old they are. Very stew-like, hearty, no distinctive taste, but very welcome on a cold day.

jim, jim s. March 26, 2015