Mirepoix Mirepoix Lentil Soup
Oil-free Vegan Vegetable and Lentil Soup
Mirepoix Mirepoix Lentil Soup is our choice for this New Year’s dinner. This soup is vibrant, delicious and looks pretty on the table. It has so much nutritional goodness that it makes a wonderful celebratory way to start the year.
What is Mirepoix?
Mirepoix is a French culinary term that refers to the aromatic vegetable starter for soups, stews and sauces. The traditional mirepoix consists of 2 parts onion, 1 part celery and 1 part carrot. Garlic, fennel and leeks are also often used in a mirepoix starter. The vegetables are sauteed until they become soft, fragrant and flavorful before adding the remaining ingredients of the recipe.
Why two mirepoix?
The first mirepoix creates the flavorful broth that makes this soup so good. The second mirepoix is for the bite-sized vegetables simmered to al dente and retaining their vibrant color making the soup enticing to eat.
The first mirepoix is the classic trio of finely diced onion, celery and carrots with the addition of fennel, crushed or grated garlic, dried spices and herbs. This combination along with the lentils makes a very flavorful satisfying broth.
The second mirepoix consists of larger bite size slices of celery, carrots and fennel added to the soup about 20 to 25 minutes after the lentils so that by the time the lentils are cooked through the vegetables are cooked to al dente and still have their beautiful color brightness.
Lentils for Mirepoix Mirepoix Lentil Soup
For this mirepoix lentil soup, Black lentils, French lentilles du Puy or French green lentils are the best choice. Of the three, lentils labeled as Green Lentils French style or simply French Lentils are the most readily available. Both the black lentils and French green lentils have a really rich earthy, deep taste that along with the mirepoix makes the broth very flavorful and they hold their shape. The ubiquitous lentils that are simply labeled as brown or green lentils will make a good dish, but they don’t have the flavor to develop the broth flavor, take much longer to cook through and lose their shape. In some areas though, these may be all you can find. For a tip on sorting through lentils, see Sorting Lentils on a White Square Plate .
Adding the Tomato
The crushed tomatoes or tomato paste & water mix are added along with the 2nd mirepoix as opposed to the first mirepoix. Tomatoes make it so the lentils don’t absorb the water, and the lentils will take much longer to become done and often end up being gritty. Crushed tomatoes will add a little more acidity and the tomato paste will add more depth or “umami” but either is good.
Mirepoix Mirepoix lentil soup is a hearty and elegant served as the main course along with turmeric spiced oil-free “Golden Gold Roasted Potatoes” pictured above or as an opener for a dinner in a small bowl pictured below. The Salt-free Cashew Spice Blend is a welcome final touch that adds a blast flavor.
Tools Used in this Recipe
- Chef Knife
- Cutting Board
- grater or pounder (for garlic)
- vegetable peeler
- Dutch oven
- wooden spatula
- measuring cup
- 1 cup finely diced onion about 1 small yellow onion
- 1 cup finely diced celery about 1 large celery stalk
- 1/2 cup finely diced fennel about 1/2 a fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup finely diced carrots about 1 small carrot
- 2 Tbls crushed or grated garlic 4–6 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground fennel seed
- 2 tsps Aleppo
- 1 tsp dried thyme and/or 1 tsp marjoram
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups Black Lentils or French Puy Lentils or French Lentils sorted, rinsed and drained
- 8 cups* water or Mirepoix Vegetable Stock preferably hot (hot water or stock will bring the soup to a boil quicker)
- 1 cup celery sliced crosswise, 1/4 in thick slices about 2 celery stalks
- 1 cup carrots sliced crosswise, 1/4 in thick slices about 2 carrots
- 1 cup sliced fennel, sliced crosswise, 1/4 in thick slices about 1/2 fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or 2 tbls of tomato paste mixed with 1/4 of very hot water
- 1 1/2 Tbls miso mixed with 1/4 cup very hot water or 11/2 Tbls reduced sodium tamari more if desired
- 2 cups chopped kale
- Fennel fronds and/or chopped parsley optional
- lemon juice optional
- Salt-free Cashew-Spice Blend optional, see link below
- Prepare the vegetables for the first mirepoix: grate the garlic or crush to make about 2 Tbls, set aside. Finely dice the onion, the cut pieces should be about 1/4in, 1 cup. Finely dice the remaining mirepoix vegetables: celery, 1 cup, carrot, 1/2 cup and the fennel, 1/2 cup.
- Start the first mirepoix to make the flavorful broth: Heat the Dutch oven or pot to medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir, then leave for 2–3 minutes.
- Add the diced celery, diced carrots and diced fennel to the pot and allow to cook for 3 or 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally with spatula. Lower heat a bit (to medium or medium-low, depending on your stove, and continue.
- Clear an area in the center of the pan and add the grated garlic. Using the edge of the spatula push the garlic down to make a flat layer on the pot's bottom surface. Cook garlic until it picks up a little color and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan so that it caramelizes a little and becomes fragrant and the raw smell dissipates (about 1–2 minutes). Then add 2–3 tablespoons of water to deglaze, rub the garlic with a wooden spatula or wooden spoon to lift and stir in with the rest of the mirepoix mixture.
- Add the spices, dried herb(s) and bay leaves, stir to coat the mirepoix mixture. Continue to cook through 3 to 5 more minutes, adding a table spoon or two of water if pan bottom is dry or vegetables are picking up too much color.
- Add the lentils to the pot and stir to coat with the mirepoix and spice mixture.
- Pour in the hot water 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Place the lid on pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat medium low and simmer 20 minutes for black lentils and 25 minutes for French lentils. The lentils should be cooked mostly through, but still have firmness. They should not be hard, if they are simmer longer until the lentils are almost done before proceeding to the next step. While the soup is simmering prepare the 2nd mirepoix vegetable slices if you haven't already.
- Second mirepoix: Add in the 2nd mirepoix of sliced celery, carrots, and fennel, the crushed tomatoes or tomato paste mixture and the miso mixture or salt if using. Simmer for 10 minutes more. The celery carrots and fennel should be vibrant in color and slightly underdone.
- Add in the chopped kale to the pot, and simmer for another 5 minutes. The kale will become a vibrant green and brighten the look of the soup. and the rest of of the 2nd mirepoix vegetables should be done too.
- Check to make sure the vegetables and lentils are done to your liking, simmer a little longer if needed.
- Serve in cups or bowls, garnish with fennel fronds and/or parsley if desired and for added brightness squeeze a little lemon juice just before service. Sprinkle with Salt-free Cashew spice blend for extra zestiness.