I grew up in a very European home, dinner every night of the week was started with soup. Even though we rarely sat together as a family for dinner aside from Friday nights. My mom would always have a soup ready as the opening course of any supper. I’m not as consistent as my mother, but at least once or twice a week, I will make soup, and this one is hands down my favorite, hearty because of the lentils and yet light because unlike many lentil soups, there is no meat component or tomato base.

My family likes this soup so much that my nephew Mordechai asked if I would make it to serve at his Bar Mitzvah – now that is a proper fan following!

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onion, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped medium (about ½ cup)
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped medium (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 200g (1 cup) lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 7 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 60g (⅓ cup) long-grain brown rice
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles.

  1. Heat a medium-large soup pot over medium-high heat, once hot add the oil, heat the oil, once it starts to shimmer, add onion cook, stirring occasionally until onions have softened and turned golden 5-6 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the celery and carrots; cook, stirring until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, add chicken broth and season salt, and pepper to taste; bring mixture to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened 20 minutes.
  3. Uncover, add the rice and simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape and rice is cooked, 25 to 30 minutes; discard bay leaf.
  4. Using a handheld blender, puree about half the soup so that the broth is thickened but some of the lentils and vegetables still hold their shape, stir in lemon juice, and serve.
  5. The soup can be made in advance; refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot.