Hearty French Lentils

In the midst of a busy life, many of us can too easily succumb to feelings of pressure ( I know I can). Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to be who we want to be. Maybe even pressure to be what we think others want us to be. Staying cool and calm amongst all these pressures can be tough. But it’s the only way to win (in my very humble opinion). Staying grounded starts with good nutrition. If we are fed well, our brains work and our bodies work. We can see things for what they really are.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Being well fed need not be complicated. Mixing together compatible ingredients that taste great, feed our bodies, and can be pulled together easily with (just a little) know how, is really all it takes. The trick is to just keep it real . This recipe is the perfect start. French lentils make beautiful firm mouthfuls out of this dish, but any green or brown lentil will do, though cooking time will vary.

The Less:

Less pressure to be fancy means more simple hearty foods. Less hard to find ingredients means more easily at hand meals. Less cooked, canned, and processed protein means good fuel is cheaper, cleaner, and more healthful. And when it’s this easy to cook, why not?

The More:

More hearty warm comfort food means more comfort for the soul. More easy ways to fill up means more reasons to make it habit. More simple herbs and spices means creating variety is easy, so making delicious out of (just a little) quickly becomes second nature.

Hearty French Lentils:
  • (2) tbsp good olive oil
  • (1) large onion, chopped medium (2 cups chopped)
  • (1 – 1.5) tsp salt, or to taste
  • (2) tsp ground cumin
  • (3-4) carrots, peeled and cubed
  • (2)  Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3-4 good-sized cloves)
  • (3) bay leaves
  • (2) tbsp tomato paste
  • (1) cup Puy or French lentils
  • (3-4) cups water (I used 3)

Start by putting up the olive oil to heat in a medium pot on medium high. When hot, add the chopped onion and salt, and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or so until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots, cumin and garlic, and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Once all the veggies are glistening and the cumin is smelling fragrant and delicious, add the water, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaves and stir to incorporate.

Bring to a boil on high. Once boiling, turn heat to medium low (not low) and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice from the bottom up. After the first 20 minutes, remove the lid and rest on the side of the pot so a little air can escape. Cook another 20 minutes (total of 40 minutes) stirring here and there.

Serve piping hot with crusty fresh bread, and top with your choice of olive oil, black pepper, fresh herbs, chopped chives or scallions, fresh tomato, or slices of red onion. You really can’t go wrong. This dish will keep for up to 5-6 days in your fridge (it gets better the longer it languishes) and freezes well too. So double it up if you want leftovers. Seriously! It could be because I grew up eating lentils, but I don’t know of a greater comfort food than this. There are endless variations to the uses for them, limited only by what is in season, or what you have on hand. They are cheap. They keep forever. They are for real.

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ShiraHearty French Lentils

97 Comments on “Hearty French Lentils”

  1. This Sydney Life

    Shira – Where has the kale pic gone…???

    I love puy lentils and, since it’s winter here (Brrrr), this would make a fab’ dinner. Go to comfort meal for me is scrambled eggs a la TSL’s Dad – ‘scrambies’ in our house growing up. Made with eggs, cheese, parsley and a tiny dribble of cream and S&P. SCRUMMY! 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear all your news, Jx

    1. Shira

      ‘Scrambies’ sound amazing my friend! Yum! Have to try those…
      You noticed the tomato (along with Marina too!) …. we are trying it out as the kale was getting (just a little) tired for me (not to mention it wasn’t my image). We have some great new icons as part of the NSF branding we are just starting to work with..watch for the tomato to change + I am thinking it might be too big too? Stay tuned! I love your eye for the details…always! 🙂

  2. JustALittleJoy

    This looks so tasty. I am rubbish with lentil recipes, I have bags in my cupboard that have never been opened… need to start giving the lentils some love! 🙂

    1. Shira

      I know right Tess? Lentils can seem tough without a few tricks. This one is sure to please (any lentils except red would work great here, heck even red would too!) Lentils need love, you are right! 🙂

  3. Alexiasana

    a nice intense bowl of lentils, yum! thats true comfort food to me. there is hardly anthing else that I enjoy more when I am in need of something really flavourful and comforty! the thicker the better 🙂 thanks for sharing this recipe, it made my mouth water and its still a way to go until lunch !

    1. Shira

      Thanks Alexia, we are so on the same page! We’ll be serving this with a nice pilaf this weekend – the thickness makes the required serving size so much smaller, easier to feed large groups! Plus, I like them better that way too (hehe)!

  4. Change My Body...Change My Life

    I love lentils and this looks yummy! I like trying to make dahl but I haven’t succeeded yet at getting the seasonings just right.

    1. Shira

      If you are looking for a curry dish, I have posted a red lentil curry before (though not necessarily traditional dahl it is in the family) – it’s so easy to make! Seasonings are everything with lentils, and once you get it you have it forever!

  5. lightlycrunchy

    I have to admit that we didn’t grow up eating lentils and they seem a bit exotic to us, but this certainly sounds easy enough. I’d love to try it out.

    My favourite comfort food has always been chicken stew with garden fresh carrots and peas and dumplings.

    1. Shira

      Nice comfort food Heidi! Lovely! Crazy about lentils as I am learning large amounts are grown right here in the Canadian prairies..and the vast majority are shipped to India and other parts of Asia and the Mediterranean. Crazy, right?

  6. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    This looks so delicious Shira. I love how simple yet hearty it looks. It’s all in choosing the right flavours isn’t it? You must be getting so excited for your trip 🙂

    And don’t you worry about being a little behind- that’s 100% ok- you take your time, we’ll all be here waiting for you!

    Love the new symbol at the top by the way 😉

    1. Shira

      Happy you like the tomato girl 😉 We’ve got a few more of those up our sleeves too…
      You are always just the sweetest, nicest, most encouraging blog friend out there Gabby. Thank you for being you. Never change! xox

  7. you eat it

    Wonderful meal idea. Add a nice salad & I’d be ready for a nap. Speaking of salads, have you ever tried cooking lentils until they are tender & then dressing them with a vinaigrette? Makes for a nice cool salad if the weather is too warm.

  8. Brittany

    I loveee lentils, but along with any other legume type food the do not love me on the inside. I can only eat them on occasion haha. This dish looks delicious!! I love that food should never be stressful, in fact I turn to cooking or baking to relax.

  9. IHeartVegetables

    That looks delicious! And you seriously have the most amazing photos. I just love your blog, Shira!! You’re a beauitful person, inside and out, and it comes through in your posts!

    1. Shira

      Such kind words from a wonderful blogger and reader – the feeling is mutual Liz! Seriously, I’m blushing. Love. 🙂 Happy Friday!

  10. glutenfreehappytummy

    What a delicious recipe Shira! Bay leaves and lentils go together like PB & J:) I agree, there’s so much pressure these days — being well fed is vital if you’re going to thrive. You gotta take care of you before you tackle the world! Lets see, to stay cool, I always just make sure to surround myself with people who bring out the good. Having a good support system of family and friends is so important in my book:) Thanks for a wonderful post. have a great weekend Shira!

    1. Shira

      100% Rachel! They go with absolutely everything, right? Especially nice red wine 😉 It is Friday night here after all! Always love your comments! xox

  11. Heather

    Beautifully simple recipe – lentils are a staple in our house, you can never go wrong.

    When pressure is on and I feel like I am being pulled a million and one ways I step away, almost out of the chaos to try to look at the madness from a different perspective, then I move onto to something I love and can just get lost in , for me this time of year its either hiking with my pup or spending countless hours in the garden – this tends to bring me back to center. Nourishing my body with whole plant foods, plenty of water and excercise is a must, to keep me sane too!

    1. Shira

      Gardening = bliss!! I am so with you Heather, and really have missed it this year. The rain here in Vancouver (along with this busy schedule) has made my weekend garden escapes non-existent. Love your thoughts on this, I think we share some lovely commonalities 🙂

  12. spree

    Shira – easy peasy good-for-you comfort! Like very much the sounds of this recipe! Have all the ingredients on hand and no plan for lunch…until now. Thanks Shira! Best to you on your adventure and looking forward to hearing more! (Thanks for lunch!) 🙂

    1. Shira

      Hi Spree! Sorry I didn’t get to this before lunch – how was it? Always lovely to receive a visit from you Spree 🙂 I can’t wait to share more, and wish us luck!

  13. Little Sis

    Looks lovely. Strangely enough my extremely picky little one has decided that lentils are okay, so I’m always up for a new (old and wonderfully simple) way. Thanks!

      1. Little Sis

        Hard to believe, eh? The boy’s favorite soup is a curried lentil soup, and my lentil casserole has made my daughter’s very short list of favorite (and by favorite I mean she will eat them without an attempt at negotiation) foods. Catch ’em while they’re young, right?

        1. Shira

          Amazing and so inspiring! Thanks for sharing this with me 🙂 It will make sense in an upcoming post how cool it is to hear that!

  14. Somer

    Boiling up a pot of morrocan lentil soup now, I’m reading your post and the scent is wafting all over the house. I LOVE lentils! I will try your version soon.

  15. Kristy

    I want those lentils and that gorgeous crusty bread! The whole meal looks divine! Yum! Good luck with your event this weekend- can’t wait to hear about it! 🙂

  16. thecrueltyfreereview

    Even though it’s going to be over 100 degrees here tomorrow I want a bowl of this! Lentils are so filling and healthy; I really need to use them more! And spices make everything nice, no matter how simple the recipe.

    1. Shira

      So true about the spices! I even like these cold, especially a day old. They are a great room temperature dip even for crackers or bread! Ultimate versatility for the truly hungry 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

  17. marinachetner

    Shira, love the message in this quote about feeling the pressure. It’s so true – as much as we want to do things for ourselves, we want to be everyone’s everything too!! (not in an ego way though!) I love quotes – they help me stay grounded which is why i love your quotes always. French lentils – are you getting excited about your overseas trip??

    1. Shira

      Overseas? Is someone going overseas? 😉 You nailed it!! The answer is a definitive YES to that!
      Happy you enjoyed this message Marina..it’s easy to fall into extra stress traps for no reason (totally self imposed too!)..when that happens I know it’s time to just chill. And have a good meal and a glass of wine!

  18. Anastasia

    Weird, I almost never make French, but when I do – I always love the end result. I think this one should be added to the todo list… Have a good weekend, Shira.

    1. Shira

      Thank you Anastasia! You have a good weekend too, I am the same and all lentils work, but I do have to admit the french done this way were my fave 🙂

  19. slowborg

    My friend was unpacking french lentils from her groceries the other day and it was the first time I had ever seen them (knowingly). And now i know what to do with them, and it’s winter here so I will be trying this!
    Thank you! Beautiful photography as usual x

  20. theplumpalate

    Lentils, lentils, lentils. Love them and, you’re right, such an easy delicious way to take care of ourselves. I keep us stocked up with the less expensive brown lentils but I do treat us to the French lentils now and again. I’ll remember your recipe when I do. Lovely photos (again)! xo

    1. Shira

      Thanks Jennifer! This dish is AS delicious with brown lentils…that was my original recipe, but I do love the french and they were just as yummy 🙂 I always love your visits, thanks!

  21. Cara

    Good grief, do these lentils sound so good. I’m also drooling over that bread too. Great, thanks Shira! Now I need this for breakfast. I blame you.

    1. Shira

      Thanks Becca! They are worth trying once, I’ve made them about 4 times in the past few weeks – great to have you back! 🙂

  22. Karen

    So excited to find this recipe on your blog, Shira. It was my favourite thing on the plate last Saturday at the SCC dinner!

    1. Shira

      So happy you stopped in Karen! Sorry we did not get to meet officially – hope to see you again soon! Enjoy the recipe and any others you are curious about – feel free to drop me a line anytime 🙂 Cheers!

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  25. Sally

    Just found your website, and feeling very inspired! Made the French lentils, gorgeous; and the ginger tea. Got chickpeas soaking ready for roasting. Must also try the Italian chickpea flatbread, I’ve got a Vitamix which I use ALL the time!

  26. Kathy

    Just discovered this website . Made these lentils today and they are delicious. Thanks! I’m hoping to try more of your recipes.

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