This basic soup is elevated by using French lentils and seasoning with the elegant and unique French Espelette pepper. French lentils are a variety of green lentils with a nutty and peppery kick, as well as a slight earthy flavor. They also tend to hold their shape well in a recipe like this.
The ingredient that gives this soup its distinctive flavor is Espelette pepper. This is a variety of pepper that's cultivated in the French commune of Espelette in the French Basque country. It offers a mild heat and distinctive flavor. If you can't find Espelette pepper in your local grocery store, it can be ordered online or found in French specialty stores. You won't regret adding this gourmet ingredient to your spice cabinet. Alternately, smoked paprika is a delicious substitute in this recipe.
This classic French recipe is prepared quickly and easily by using the Instant Pot. There is no need to soak the lentils and the soup cooks on high pressure for only 15 minutes. It also calls vegetable broth, so it's vegan. Be sure to serve this lentil soup with warm, crusty French bread. For added elegance, it pairs well with white or red French wine such as a Sancerre or pinot noir.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups onion (chopped)
- 1 cup carrots (chopped)
- 1 cup celery (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon Espelette pepper (or smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
Gather the ingredients.
Drizzle the olive oil into the Instant Pot and set to sauté. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the minced garlic, thyme, Espelette pepper, salt, and black pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the lentils, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
Cover and seal the pressure cooker, then use the manual setting to cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of high pressure, allow the cooker to release pressure naturally. This will take about 10 to 15 additional minutes. You will know the pressure cooker is safe to open when the pressure valve is down.
Open the lid and stir the soup to combine. Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings as desired. If necessary, you can add additional broth to achieve desired consistency.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and crusty French bread for dipping.