French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard

One post I’m telling you how our car didn’t have air-conditioning, and the next I’m making French lentil soup. It may seem counterintuitive, I know, but here we are in the hottest season of the year in America and Tim and I are still scooping ladles of this creamy, spicy mixture to our bowls. What can I say? It’s economical, it’s easy, it’s a good way to use up the chard showing up in your farm share every week but, mostly, we like this sort of soup because it tastes good. In the world of soups, it is the closest thing to Asian takeout you can achieve fast and furious (and with all real food) without leaving your front door. By that, I don’t mean it tastes Asian exactly but rather that those same feelings you get from Asian takeout—I’m talking Indian or Chinese or, oh man, pad Thai—where what you’re eating is so richly spiced and flavorful that you feel like you’re escaping, like your eating from someplace entirely Other and not your hometown? That’s how I feel when we have this soup. It’s adapted from a version I saw on Traveler’s Lunchbox, which first won me over with its golden color and then bowled me over with its killer taste. It uses pantry staples like lentils and onions and garlic, too, and I’m always a fan of quick throw-together meals like that.

French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard
French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard
French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard

Other things that have felt like escapes this last week, and I mean the good kind of escapes, not where you wake up in a sweat, thinking you jumped off a building or snakes were in your bed, but the beautiful kind where your thoughts are lifted and your hope is restored:

  • The Butcher and the Vegetarian: I found a copy of Tara Austen Weaver (of’s book at McKay’s last week or the one before, where I grabbed it because the first few pages pulled me in and because Tara’s a nice blogger who treats everyone with grace. Maybe it’s a funny thing to want to read a book because you think the author’s kind, but, honestly, I do. Anyway, I finished it a few nights ago and cannot recommend it enough. Personal, insightful look at vegetarianism and meat eating and food in general, one that is easy to relate to and helpful to think about.
  • Spinning Plates: This Netflix documentary profiles three American restaurants, from the Michelin-rated to the family-owned. I came away from it feeling thankful for the people who have thrown themselves into the food industry, whether because of art or desperation or community, as well as wanting to support more small businesses in our town.
  • Beautiful online spaces like this one and this one and this one.
  • Creative Live: Do you guys already know about these free online classes geared towards creatives?
  • We made this Wednesday. It was good.

French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard


Serving Size: 3 to 4

French Lentil Soup with Spices and Chard

This recipe is taken from The Traveler's Lunchbox, who adapted it from the cookbook Once Upon a Tart


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated (or minced or pressed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup whole milk (or full-fat coconut milk)
  • 2 cups cooked French lentils
  • a few handfuls fresh spinach, chard or kale, washed, tough stems discarded and cut into ribbons
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


In a stockpot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil and butter together, adding the turmeric and letting it toast in the pan. Add the diced onion and stir often for about 10 to 15 minutes, until all the onions are soft and wilted, with caramelized sections in parts. Add the garlic, cardamom and cinnamon, and stir together until just mixed, about 30 seconds. Add the lentils, milk and greens, and bring the entire mixture back to a gentle boil, letting it cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until all the flavors have melted and the greens and soft. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Joanna

    Perfect timing. I was just looking for more recipes with turmeric and cinnamon in them in a desperate (grasping? naive?) attempt to get Brad some relief from his inflammation symptoms. So this recipe at this moment is a gift from you to me. Or really, from Him to you to me.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I love turmeric for its anti-inflammation properties. I hate inflammation. Thinking of you guys all the time. Praying for comfort and healing and hope.

  2. Sini | my blue&white kitchen

    What a wonderful bowl of soup! It has been an unusually cold June here in Scandinavia with temperatures way under 60ºF (jut craaazy) so a lentil soup would definitely be welcomed at my dinner table. Hope you have a warmer weekend than I. xoxo

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Sini, Hands down one of my favorite parts of blogs/social media is witnessing the weather on other sides of the world. I hope it never stops amazing me. I hope people like you never stop telling people like me how it’s under 60 over there and so soup sounds good. I reminds me how big the world is and how small I am in it! xo back.

  3. Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    i never get tired of soups either although i do not like the idea of turning on my stove right now.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Ha! Preach. Maybe save this for your next rainy wave. : )

  4. Kendra

    This sounds delicious. How’s the shelf life? This is the kind of thing I’d like to make one and reheat for a few lunches. A good possibility? I feel like lentils can go either way sometimes. Also hi. :)

    1. Kendra

      Also those bowls are killer.

      1. Shanna Mallon

        You can probably already guess I bought the bowl at Goodwill, hahaha. : ) I love that it’s shallow. Now as for shelf life, good question, we haven’t been able to keep the soup long enough to find out but (!) I will say that when you cook a big batch of lentils at the beginning of the week, whipping up this soup is easy and fast. If you try leftovers, lemme know what you think!

  5. How to Philosophize with Cake

    That looks delicious! I love lentil soup. :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Would love to hear what you think if you make this one!

  6. Millie l Add A Little

    This looks amazing Shanna! Definitely want to try this out :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hope you do, Millie!

  7. Joyti

    It’s COLD here in San Francisco – like cloudy and 60 degrees. And the soup looks delicious!

    Lentil soups always remind me of dal (that Indian – lentil soup thing) so it’s not that far of a more, more healthy version of Indian take-out :)

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Ha! Would you believe, the day after this posted, I was wearing a sweatshirt because it was a chilly, rainy day here, too? No worries, though. The heat wave’s back now. : )

  8. Kathryn

    I often have soup for lunch during the summer, not least because I work in an overly air-conditioned office, but I also think this kind of food makes a perfect evening meal, preferably eaten outside as the heat gently slips away from the day.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Right? What is it with indoor spaces being way overly air-conditioned to compensate for hot weather! I have to dress for two climates everywhere I go, haha. : )

  9. Marie @ Little Kitchie

    The color alone in this soup is incredible! I can only imagine how delicious it is!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Right? So killer.

  10. Pingback: Warming Meals for the New Year - Honest Beans

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