about Ina Garten

A New Year's Lunch

Lentil Vegetable Soup
The recipes and text are from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten. Excerpted by permission from Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. 1999
Photographs by Melanie Acevedo

This is a delicious and hearty winter soup that gets a lot of its flavor and texture from French lentils. They are the small green ones that are available from specialty food stores or by mail order. French lentils make this soup taste fresher and less starchy than the traditional American ones.

Note: As lentil soup sits, it will thicken; just add more chicken stock to get the right consistency.Red wine vinegars vary greatly in strength. Put half the vinegar into the soup, taste it, and then add the rest if you want more.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


  • 1 pound French green lentils
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large onions)
  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white part only (2 leeks)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus additional for drizzling on top
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups medium-diced celery (8 stalks)
  • 3 cups medium-diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine or red wine vinegar

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain. In a large stockpot on medium heat, sauté onions, leeks and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings. Add the red wine and serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

...Published: December 2004