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French Lentil Soup with Cilantro

French Lentil Soup with Cilantro

Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 8
Author Jeanette


  • 13 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
  • 1 large red onion quartered and sliced
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups green French lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous or brown rice
  • chopped fresh cilantro for serving
  • fresh lemon wedges for serving


  1. Place 1 cup of water next to the stovetop. Heat the oil with the cumin in a large soup pot over medium heat until cumin is browned, about 2 minutes. Add chili flakes and ground peppercorns, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion and salt, and cook until onion is deep browned and crispy, 15-20 minutes, adjusting the heat to medium-low as needed to prevent from burning. Stir often and splash with water, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pot when the onions begin to stick.
  2. Add 2 cups of water along with the lentils and the turmeric to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 10 more cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  3. Stir in the couscous and return the soup to a boil. Cook, partially covered, until the couscous is al dente. Cover the pot and turn off the heat. Let the lentil soup stand for 30 minute to 2 hours to thicken.
  4. Before serving, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Recipe Notes

adapted from Suvir Saran's American Masala cookbook