This French Onion Green Lentil Soup is amazing! This soup is a nice twist on the classic French onion soup with the addition of the French green lentils and the crunchy fennel. It can be served 3 ways, on its own for the vegan, with cheese for the gluten free and with French bread and cheese for the vegetarian. This soup has such a depth of flavor that will sooth your soul!
I use to make a vegetarian French onion soup at my restaurant and it was always a hit. I have been wanting to make it again for some time now but I also wanted to do something a little different. I decided to add French green lentils and fennel to the mix. It turned out better than I could have imagined and I am super excited to share it with you!
6 – 8 Servings
- Caramelized Onions – recipe below
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for fennel stalks) + 1/4 Cup (for the caramelized onions)
- 1 1/2 Cup French Green Lentils
- 8 Cups Filtered Water
- 2 Sprigs + 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – cored – cut halves in half and thinly slice
- 1 Cup Fennel Stalks – thinly sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
- 3 Vegetable Bouillon Cube – salt free
- 2 Tablespoons Dry White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh Tarragon Leaves – minced
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
- 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4 Yellow or White Onions – cut in half and thinly sliced into half circles
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
- Sea Salt to taste
- French Bread
- Gruyere Cheese
- Fennel Frond
Start by caramelizing the onions. (I often do this the day before) Add the sliced onions to a large straight side pan. Sweat the onions on med heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This will remove the water and form a golden crust on the pan called fond. You will want to use a wooden spoon to scrape the pan with.
Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, deglaze by scraping the pan and stir to combine the golden fond. Turn heat to medium-low for 20 more minutes and stir a couple of times but not too much, you want the fond to occur, this gives it its golden color and flavor.
Add 1 tablespoon of wine and deglaze then cook for 10 minutes, stir and scrape the fond a few times.
Add 2 more tablespoons of wine, deglaze and let cook for 10 more minutes, stir and scrape the fond a few times. Add 1 more tablespoon of wine, deglaze and turn off the heat. They should be dark golden in color. If they aren’t, cook a bit longer and deglaze again with a tablespoon of water. Lightly sprinkle with salt.
In a large pot combine the lentils, water, 2 sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil then turn to medium-low for 15 – 20 minutes (use a timer) until lentils are soft but slightly firm then remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.
While the lentils are cooking, cut the stalks off the fennel bulb and cut into thin slices starting where the frond were attached to the bulb and measure out a cup. Cut the fennel bulb in half and cut out the core then cut the halves in half. Thinly slice.
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-low heat add the fennel, fennel stalks and garlic then saute until the garlic starts to turn golden.
Add the tarragon, 2 tablespoons of thyme and bullion cubes to the fennel mix, 1 tablespoon of wine, mash the bouillon, and stir everything together. Stir until they start to get sticky and turn golden then add the remaining tablespoon of wine, deglaze and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain and add the lentils and onions to the fennel.
Lastly add the lemon juice, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until it is hot and all the flavors combine.
Vegan* It’s ready to eat.
Vegetarian * Add some soup in an oven safe bowl and top with toasted french bread and grated gruyere cheese. Put it under the broiler until it turns golden and bubbly on top.
Gluten free * Eat it as is or add some grated gruyere cheese on top and let it melt or put under the broiler until it turns golden and bubbly on top.
Onions are part of the Allium family like scallions, shallots and leeks. Consuming onions daily can help increase bone density, remove bad cholesterol and are helpful with insomnia or sleeping disorders. They contain vitamin C and the phytochemicals called flavonoids that improves the absorption of Vitamin C, which improves blood vessels and reduces inflammation. They have the mineral chromium in them that helps with low blood sugar by helping the cells respond to insulin. The anti-inflammatory antioxidant called quercetin that is present may be helpful with conditions like arthritis. Onions help release digestion juices, which improves the digestive system. They also contain calcium, iron and B complex and have anti-biotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and carminative properties.
Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood. The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation. It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration. There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain. The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.
Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy. A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements. Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy. They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.