Make Ahead

Frances Moore Lappé's Lentils, Monastery Style

April 14, 2015
15 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Make a richly flavored lentil soup from nothing (and then tip in sherry, for kicks). Adapted slightly from Diet For a Small Planet (Ballantine Books, 1991). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed
  • 1 pinch Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 16 ounce can tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2/3 cup grated Swiss cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large pot and sauté the onions and carrot for 3 to 5 minutes, until softened and onion is translucent. Add dried herbs and sauté 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, salt, parsley, and tomatoes and cook, covered, until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Add sherry.
  2. To serve, put 2 tablespoons cheese in each bowl and fill with soup.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Janet Xara Buckingham
    Janet Xara Buckingham
  • Leisureguy
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • Cheryl McKinley
    Cheryl McKinley
  • krikri
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

41 Reviews

lmludo January 5, 2023
Back in the early 80's I discovered "Diet for a Small Planet." A teacher I had in business school introduced me. My sister & father were vegetarians and I was eating very little meat. I made this soup & everyone loved it! Here I am, 40 years later, and still making it. My son (who is a real carnivore!) loves it & asks me to make it, especially for New Year. In Italy, lentils are lucky, as they somewhat resemble coins. The Swiss cheese in the bottom of the bowl is fabulous, don't skip it!
AlexO January 5, 2023
I discovered "Diet for a Small Planet" back in 1982 when I became a vegetarian. My son's pediatrician recommended it to me. I used the charts for combining proteins to bring up my four children as vegetarians. This recipe was a favorite in our household and I still make it now that my kids are grown. I make it for my husband and me.
AlexO December 6, 2021
I've been making this lentil stew since my kids were small in the 1980s. Yes, the book has been out since 1971. ( I found this version when I was looking for a picture to add to my recipe app. It's always been a favorite of mine and my family's and it's a good start for a new vegetarian. Forty years after getting this book and trying the recipes and food combinations and I'm still a vegetarian. Thanks for including this wonderful recipe!
Janet X. March 5, 2021
Lentil stew as the main dish for a dinner party?? Ordinarily I wouldn't say yes, but in the case of this recipe, oh yes! I've been making this regularly since I bought "Diet for a Small Planet" on my honeymoon in 1977. My take on it is to up the carrots to three or four, and to use a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes rather than the 16-oz can of whole tomatoes. It is so very good. The sherry is a must, but we do skip the cheese quite often.
Leisureguy December 26, 2018
I just made this again. It's a regular here. I use 1 Tbsp marjoram and 1 Tbsp thyme rather than 1/2 teaspoon. When I sauté the vegetables I include 3-4 anchovies for additional umami, and for the same reason I add a parmesan rind with the tomatoes and stock, along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce or Maggi. I include about 3/4 c chopped celery as well. For tonight's batch, the stock I used was bone broth from a local butcher. Wonderful dinner.
Poniesss403 November 30, 2018
I have a string of Emmenthaler between my chin and bowl as I write this. I make lots of lentil soups, usually without recipes, but this one will stay on the rotation for sure. I added some red pepper flakes and bay leaves and used red wine instead. 10/10 recipe. Doesn't ask much of you but delivers in comfort and taste. FYI it's low on broth if you prefer it to come out brothier I'd add extra.
Taylor S. October 5, 2018
Wow, so sweet and delicious and satisfying! Served it over spaghetti squash with goat cheese and fontina.
Cheryl M. April 18, 2018
Best lentil soup I've ever made or had. The sherry really adds depth to it. Yum!
Cheryl M. April 18, 2018
Best lentil soup I've ever made or had. The sherry really adds depth to it. Yum!
Sabra313 April 16, 2018
What would you think of substituting vermouth for the sherry?
krikri January 23, 2018
This was great! Really easy to put together too! I added some unpeeled cloves of garlic into the mix, and squeezed the contents onto warm crusty bread while sipping. Yum! Thank you!
Jennifer S. January 17, 2018
I made this yesterday after shoveling snow and had enough left for lunches the rest of the week. It is delicious! Definitely going on the winter rotation.
juicyrebound1 September 21, 2017
I lived on this in college and often added a diced sweet potato to the vegetable sauté. It adds a nice sweet note to the earthy lentils. You won't miss meat for a moment.
donna J. September 21, 2017
sounds delicious
JenH June 3, 2017
This is the best lentil soup I have ever made, it's phenomenal. I made it in the pressure cooker with french lentils - 10 minutes on high pressure, natural release. It smelled phenomenal as soon as I opened the pot. My only changes were to cook up some sausage in the pot first thing and red wine instead of sherry. I have been taking it to work for my lunches and the smell never fails to draw a coworker or two to my desk wanting the recipe. This one is becoming a staple at my house.
Katie H. February 21, 2017
I rendered a sausage before putting in the onion and carrot. I left the browned bits in there as the dish cooked; this lends a lovely depth!
Read January 27, 2017
I've been making this since the book first came out (which was 1971, not 1991), when green/brown lentils were the only thing findable, and it was very good. It's even better with black/french lentils (maybe cook slightly longer).
Judy S. May 11, 2016
This is unbelievably good. So good, and so easy. It seems like it should be a lot of work, but it really isn't. I cannot recommend it enough.
Abigail K. May 7, 2016
I was surprised at how good this was! I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned and cumin and paprika for the spices and it's wonderful and flavorful.
donna J. March 5, 2016
Lately I have been on a lentil soup kick but I haven't tried adding sherry yet or Swiss cheese. Sounds lovely. I will be trying this soon.
donna J. September 21, 2017
I have made this several times since I posted this. Thank you for the contribution
Catherine February 11, 2016
Wow! I was so impressed with this soup, I mean, we're talking lentil soup so I wasn't too excited initially but it turned out to be fantastic. I used chicken stock and an entire 1 pound 12 ounce can of whole tomatoes (cut them in half before adding). Don't skimp on the sherry or swiss cheese here, they really give the soup a nice deep, well rounded flavor.
Tracey February 3, 2016
Usually I am not a huge fan of lentils, but after reading the reviews I tried it this morning. It's the best tasting lentil soup I have ever had! It was so simple to make (and inexpensive). I didn't have any sherry, so replaced it with a dry red wine and it was great. My husband also said that this recipe is a keeper.