Garlic Lentil Soup

Garlic and lentils are the star of this mellow creamy soup full of big flavor. It makes a nutritious light lunch or elegant starter.

garlic lentil soup

I’ve been feeling the ache of the empty nest – wandering around the house without a purpose, making meals that are way too much for the two of us to eat, constantly checking the phone and computer for just a wee message . . . feeling a tad out of sorts.

Yes, I know it’s a practice run – only for three months as our baby (read that as – big hungry teenager) is off on his student exchange, living with Albert’s family in Germany and having the wonderful, life-changing, first-real-independent adventure of his life. I’m proud of him and wouldn’t take that away from him for the world . . .  but it sure is far away. And a mother can’t stop being a mother.

So, I guess it’s good for me – this is my chance to figure out what I want to do with my life. Heck, it’s like a second honeymoon, but without all the angst. Maybe we’ll eat in front of the TV more often, or just have cake for supper one day. There’s no need to drive a kid here, there and everywhere for sports, friends and whatever. On days I’m not working, I don’t have to get up to nag a kid to hurry so he doesn’t miss the bus. There’s less laundry to do, and no one to leave messes everywhere. No one to make crazy noises and whoops and sing loudly off-key. No one waving smelly teenage sport socks in my face.

And there’s also no one to happily and hungrily eat up all the experiments and not-quite-perfected batches of food as I develop new recipes. Yikes. There’s suddenly a lot of food around this house.

I will not eat all the extra food. I will not eat all the extra food. I will not eat all the extra food. I will not eat all the extra food. I will not eat all the extra food.

Remind me if I forget.

I will not eat all the extra food.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a teenager’s quick metabolism anymore.

I will not eat all the extra food.

I’d better get used to making smaller batches.

This lentil soup is just right – enough for Raymond and I for supper and leftovers for work the next day.

Its soothing savoury deliciousness is just the comforting thing I need to take the edge off the Empty Nest Blues. (Sounds like a sad country song title.)

garlic lentil soup

The French make a version of Garlic Soup that is thickened with eggs and a bit of flour. I used red lentils and love the unctuous creaminess and slight earthy taste they give the soup instead. You might be shocked at the idea of a whole head of garlic, but don’t run away – once simmered and pureed, the garlic totally loses its bite and becomes mellow and complex and almost sweet. It blends with the lentils to give a rich hearty flavour to a light gentle soup. The red lentils become silky when pureed and turn a lovely golden wheat colour.

red lentils

This soup’s bold flavour contrasts beautifully with its smooth creaminess. It’s very versatile. A small bowl of Lentil Garlic Soup with a crispy toasted round of French bread would be lovely as an elegant first course at a dinner party. Just as a comforting big bowlful, slurped while watching ‘Big Bang’ reruns, makes a wonderful light supper on a night you need a warm hug and a hearty laugh to take your mind off life. The garlic has all kinds of healing properties – its a little boost for your heart.

whole head of garlic for garlic lentil soup

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Make sure you use a nice firm, unblemished, unsprouting, head of garlic (not the limp, dried out one that’s been sitting in your garlic keeper for the last three months).

Salt the soup to taste, it depends on how salty your chicken stock is. When I use a pack of low sodium store-bought broth, I need about 1 teaspoon salt. Adjust yours accordingly.

Red lentils provide lots of healthy fiber, protein and minerals. I love how quickly they cook – nature’s fast food.

This soup shouldn’t be too thick. It’s best when it’s smooth and silky and about the thickness of heavy cream. If it gets thicker than that, just thin it out with a bit of boiling water. And if you reheat any leftovers, you will need to add water to thin it out for sure.

garlic lentil soup

Garlic Lentil Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, (about 1 cup/240ml diced)
  • 1 whole firm head of garlic, with at least 10 cloves (about 1/3 cup/80ml chopped)
  • 1 cup (200gms) red lentils
  • 4 cups (950ml) chicken stock (gluten free if necessary)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar (or wine vinegar)
  • a drizzle of good olive oil for serving
  • chopped garlic chives for garnish (optional)

peeled garlic for the garlic lentil soup

Chop the onion. Peel the garlic cloves, trim off the root end of each clove, and chop them roughly.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not let them brown, or the garlic will get bitter.

Add the red lentils, chicken stock, bay leaf, and white pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the lentils are mushy, about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, and puree the soup, either in the blender in batches, or with a hand-held immersion blender right in the pot.

Add the vinegar, and salt to taste.

Drizzle each bowl with a swirl of good olive oil and a sprinkle of chopped garlic chives, if using.

Serves 4 as a main course, or 6 as a starter course.

Guten Appetit!

garlic lentil soup

my garlic chives in the pot in the window are blooming! they think it’s spring!


You might also like:

Creamy Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Gingered Pumpkin Soup with Crunchy, Creamy Toppings

From Homemade Chicken or Turkey Stock to Comforting Chicken Soup

Russian Borscht – a Salute to Sochi

End of Winter Root Vegetable Soup and Buckwheat Blue Cheese Biscuits

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20 Responses to Garlic Lentil Soup

  1. You have me all in on this one. I detest lentils and will only use them milled to thicken soups and stews – so this is right down my ally – loving garlic as I do. Killed myself laughing at you missing your teddy bear of a son. Maybe your best writing yet, Margaret!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much for making me smile, Valerie! I guess I should be cheering at the freedom, but somehow, weirdly, am really missing those smelly socks! I know all parents have to face this day, but it always seemed so far away. Thank goodness it’s only for a short while for now – gives me a chance to practice being a wild and crazy ‘grown-up’- once I figure out what to do with myself! Thank you for stopping in and for your uplifting words. Have a lovely week!

  2. Sandy says:

    Margaret …….. another phase of our lives ……. an adjustment for sure …… now just the “two of you”❤️

    This soup sounds like a keeper. We love garlic and we love soups ……. but 10 cloves of garlic ……. ‼️ Will make it for sure.

    Always enjoy your postings.


    • Margaret says:

      Thanks Sandy! People tell me I will enjoy this phase – I think I just have to get used to it. It is strange to have just the two of us sitting down to a meal. It seems like only yesterday we had the whole crew at home! Once I stop wandering around wasting time, I think I will learn to enjoy the freedom. I hope you like the soup – I promise, the garlic does mellow out a whole lot! (A glass of wine to sip makes it even more mellow!) I figure if I’m going in with 1 clove, I might as well go all the way! Thanks for stopping by – have a great rest of our sunshiny week!

  3. ingrid says:

    Hey sis, this post was as great as all the rest. I always enjoy reading the plot before the recipe, it seems to make the recipe even taste good on my lips before I even hit the kitchen! Yep the empty nest syndrome, I love it!! I still cook for 6, makes lunches and next day meals for my man at home a breeze. Cooking for 2 is just too hard, I have not accomplished that detail yet! Great to feel spring in the air, and the lentil garlic soup sounds awesome for those cool evenings yet!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much! Sounds like you found the right system – I like the efficiency of having lunches made ahead. I can’t seem to cut down either – all my meals tend to ‘grow’ in the pot as I keep adding a little bit more of this and a handful of that! And I think the love of garlic runs in our blood – you can never have too much! That spring feeling in the air sure does make me smile too – it’s been a long time coming this year! Enjoy!

  4. Vivian says:

    Hi Margaret,
    You did a lovely job of photographing the soup, especially nice with the chive blossoms. The sun in the south windows where I have kept some herbs going this winter is really getting strong now, I think spring is finally here. I hope Andreas will send you emails telling you what he has been eating. Then you can let us know and maybe inspire some delicious German cooking. I’m mad for currywurst ever since reading about it on the GermanFoodie site. Sadly Sophie no longer posts.

  5. Margaret says:

    Thank you, Vivian. So far Andreas has been the typical teenager and sent minimal texts – but we know he’s having a good time. (I hope he doesn’t eat the family out of house and home!) Currywurst has always been a real favourite in our household, too!

  6. A well written blog. Well done. Keep up the good work. The soup was delicious

    • Margaret says:

      Thank you – I am so glad you liked it! It makes my day to hear that others try my recipes! Have a wonderful week!

  7. This looks really good! I’ve never tried a Garlic Lentil Soup before, but it looks really tasty!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much, Kristi. If you are a fellow garlic lover, this soup is for you! Have a great day!

  8. Margret, this soup looks and sounds delicious. The texture of the soup look so smooth and inviting, I have to make it!!! Sounds like you are going through an adjustment. I know my mother experienced similar emotions when I studied abroad for a few months. We tried to write as much as possible, but it was still difficult nonetheless. I am sure your son is having an amazing time, and although his absence is palpable, I hope that it becomes a bit more manageable as more time passes 🙂

    • Margaret says:

      Thank you so much for the words of encouragement, Kristan! Yes, in the little bits of messages we’ve received from him he is having a wonderful time, but I think that (being a typical teenage boy) we won’t get a anything as lovely as letters or lengthy emails of any kind. Lucky you, to have had a study abroad experience too. As hard as it is for a mother to let go, it is an amazing learning experience (I am hoping!).
      Thank you for your beautiful compliment – happy Spring to you!

  9. Vivian says:

    How about a post on your version of currywurst?

    • Margaret says:

      It’s hardly a recipe, it’s so basic (and my very lazy method), but I will definitely do that in the next little while!

  10. Lauren says:

    Hi–I just made this soup today after searching Foodgawker for a new soup recipe so I could use up some lentils and chicken broth I made. It was so delicious and I can’t wait to have seconds tomorrow. The best part was the smell as it was cooking–it reminded me so much of my lovely German next door neighbor’s kitchen from when I was a kid. I’ll be putting up a blog post of it in a few days if you don’t mind 🙂 I’ll link back to your recipe, of course. My husband is very sensitive to garlic overload, though, so I think the only difference I would make next time is to roast the head of garlic in olive oil first, just to mellow it out and sweeten it even a little more.

    • Margaret says:

      Thank you so much! There is something so savoury and and delectable about the smell of a simmering dish of anything with garlic in it, isn’t there? I just can’t resist it either. Roasting the garlic first is an excellent idea – that should mellow it out even more. I look forward to checking out your blog once I get home from holiday and have better internet access. Happy cooking!

  11. Paula Gray says:

    Margaret thank you so much for this recipe. I am on the Dr. Oz 2 week rapid weight loss plan and have been looking for some variety. I have never made anything with lentils before and I just made my lunch. It was so quick and easy and very very tasty. I had a few qualms about all that garlic but I used 10 despite my reservations and it was wonderful.
    Many thanks from Down Under.

    • Margaret says:

      You are so welcome, Paula. I love how garlic mellows right out when it’s slowly simmered or roasted. Garlic lovers rejoice! And lentils are great to fill you up, you don’t even realize you’re getting all the fiber and nutrition. Thanks for visiting – it’s so cool to think that someone on the other side of the world is eating the same meal as I am. Happy winter to you, as we enjoy our summer here in the north!

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