This is my favourite smoky vegan French lentil soup with tomatoes, smoked paprika, tarragon, and garlic. This simple recipe is high in protein with only 10 core ingredients.
A version of this vegan French lentil soup is one of the first things I learned how to make when I decided to try eating 100% plant-based! I didn’t grow up eating a lot of soup, so was slightly intimidated by the idea of making my own. The flavours of tarragon and smoked paprika combined with the garlic and tomatoes were an instant winner for me. I loved how hearty and simple the recipe was—and I still do!
French lentils have a nice little toothsome bite that give some body to this soup. Pretty much all of my favourite vegan soups have lentils in some form! See also: Ginger Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Stew with Lentils & Kale, Smoky Chickpea, Cabbage & Lentil Stew with Kale, Deep Green Lentil Stew with Spinach, Tahini & Lemon, and Lentil Soup with Coconut, Spinach & Lime.
This soup is very simple to prepare and follows typical soup-making methods. You sauté aromatic onions, carrots and celery on the stove, add some spices and herbs to the pot, let the French lentils simmer for about 30 minutes, and then adjust your seasonings and enjoy!
I like to use a lot of olive oil as the base of this recipe. It just really gives this simple soup some good body. The smoked paprika is probably the most key element here. It gives the soup its main flavour note. If you don’t have French lentils, you can definitely use brown lentils. I think red lentils would cook too quickly and disintegrate into the soup unfortunately.
Hope you enjoy this recipe that also makes an appearance in my cookbook! Also, here’s some more vegan soup recipe inspiration.
My Favourite Vegan French Lentil Soup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, small dice
- 1 stick celery, small dice
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ⅓ cups french lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable stock , plus extra if needed
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup chopped parsley (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for at least 10 minutes, stirring them around frequently. They shouldn’t sizzle too loudly! This is a slow-cooking kind of process, so turn the heat down if you think they’re cooking too fast.
- When the onions are quite soft, add the thyme, tarragon, and paprika and saute for another 5 minutes, stirring here and there. Add the garlic and stir until very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 8-10 minutes, until all vegetables are soft.
- Add the can of tomatoes and stir to coat vegetables. Cook out and simmer the tomatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the drained lentils and stir to coat in the vegetables, oil and tomatoes. Add a splash of the stock and scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Add remaining vegetable stock to the pot. Give the whole mix a good stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, return pot to a simmer, cover with a lid and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Check in on the pot once in a while and give it a stir. Season the finished soup liberally with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley, if using.
- Serve the soup hot.
- I know a 1/4 cup sounds like a lot of oil, but I think it’s warranted for the resulting texture. The volume of oil helps to stew the onions, garlic and herbs so that they “melt” into the soup, meshing all of the flavours seamlessly. Alternatively, you can use less oil and add spoonfuls of stock gradually to prevent sticking/over-browning.
- I love to serve this soup with a drizzle of olive oil, maybe a a sprinkle of chili flakes, and some good bread.
- You could use crushed tomatoes instead of diced for a thicker, more stew-like vibe!