French Lentil Soup with Escarole

French Lentil Soup with Escarole

This lentil soup, with smoky bacon, Le Puy lentils, red wine, and escarole is a hearty bowl that's perfect for a chilly day. To make the soup vegetarian, omit the bacon, sauté the vegetables in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and use vegetable stock. 
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 330kcal
Author Amanda Biddle


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces bacon , cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots , cut into a 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 large celery stalks , cut into a 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 large leeks , thoroughly washed, trimmed and chopped (white and light green parts only)
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup French green lentils (Le Puy, sorted to remove any stones, and rinsed)
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves , chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 to 1 pound escarole cleaned, trimmed, and torn or chopped into bite-sized pieces (see note)
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil , for drizzling (optional)
  • Buttery Garlic Croutons (optional)


  • In a large, heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon in olive oil until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    crisped bacon in a Staub cast iron pot
  • Add carrots, leeks, and celery to the pot with 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
    sautéing carrots, celery, and leeks in a Staub pot
  • Deglaze the pan with red wine and cook for 1-2 minutes, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  
    deglazing a pot of sautéed vegetables with red wine
  • Stir in lentils, followed by stock, water, thyme, bay leaf, reserved bacon, and an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt.
    simmering a pot of lentil soup with broth and water
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
    placing a lid on a Staub cast iron pot to partially cover
  • Add escarole to the pot and stir it into the soup (it will look like a ton of escarole; it will wilt down as you stir the soup). 
    chopped raw escarole added to a pot of lentil soup
  • Bring the soup back to a boil, partially cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until lentils and escarole are soft.
  • Remove bay leaf. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, freshly-cracked black pepper, and garlic croutons, if desired.
    french lentil soup served with garlic croutons


I like a prominent amount of escarole in my lentil soup (similar to how I'd make Escarole and Beans), so I use a full pound. (1 full medium to large head.) If you prefer less escarole in your soup, use 1/2 pound, or 1/2 of a head.
For soups, I like to trim off the white root end and use the dark and light green-yellow parts of the escarole leaves.


Calories: 330kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 525mg | Potassium: 977mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 5810IU | Vitamin C: 11.2mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 3.9mg