Italian Lentil and Chanterelle Soup

published Nov 16, 2021
Italian Lentil and Chanterelle Soup Recipe

This hearty lentil soup with a cheesy mushroom topping makes for a deeply fulfilling yet easy to make midweek meal that can be made ahead and eaten for days.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 2 quarts

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook45 minutes to 1 hour

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Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

This hearty lentil soup, with its cheesy mushroom topping, is deeply fulfilling — yet incredibly easy to whip up. I like to make it at the start of the week and eat it for days; it’s even better after a good night’s rest.

Like many Italian dishes, this recipe starts with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery. The soffritto is the foundation here: It sets the tone of the soup, granting it depth, solidity, and flavor. I purposely keep it a little chunkier here than I do for something like a ragù, because the extra texture goes perfectly with rustic legume soups. 

After cooking the soffritto until softened, it’s time to build the rest of the soup. In addition to the lentils, I add a bay leaf (a favorite partner to lentils in all guises), vegetable stock, a splash of white wine, and just a bit of tomato concentrate for a light blush and a touch of acidity. As the lentils cook, they absorb the flavor-rich broth, creating a dense soup that serves as a great vehicle for a variety of toppings.

Credit: Photo: Paola + Murray; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Top This Lentil Soup with Cheesy, Buttery Mushrooms

My personal favorite soup topper, other than croutons, are cheesy, buttery mushrooms. I particularly like chanterelles, but girolles or pioppini are great, too — any sort of small wild or cultivated mushroom with a nutty nature will work. The mushrooms are sautéed in butter and garnished with a cascade of finely grated Parmesan and parsley — the former giving them that extra touch of savoriness, and the latter granting color and freshness. 

When ready to eat, the mushroom topping is simply spooned on top of the thick soup, creating that perfect flavor contrast that makes it so deeply satisfying and quintessentially fall-ish.

Italian Lentil and Chanterelle Soup Recipe

This hearty lentil soup with a cheesy mushroom topping makes for a deeply fulfilling yet easy to make midweek meal that can be made ahead and eaten for days.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes to 1 hour

Makes about 2 quarts

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 1

    medium stalk celery

  • 2

    small carrots

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 1

    bay leaf

  • 2 cups

    dried brown or French Puy lentils (about 14 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

  • 2 (32-ounce) cartons

    low-sodium vegetable broth (8 cups), divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    double-concentrated tomato paste (from a tube)

  • 8 ounces

    fresh chanterelle mushrooms

  • 1 1/2 ounces

    Parmesan cheese, grated (generous 1/3 cup)

  • 6 to 8 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following for the soffritto, adding them each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Finely dice 1 small yellow onion and 1 medium celery stalk, peel and finely dice 2 small carrots.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over a medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion mixture and 1 bay leaf and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse 2 cups dried brown lentils and pick out any stones.

  3. Add the lentils and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 7 cups of the vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and stir until dissolved. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat as needed, until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 25 to 35 minutes. The soup should be thick but not dry. If the lentils are not ready but have absorbed all the liquid, add the remaining 1 cup vegetable broth and continue cooking.

  4. Meanwhile, trim and cut 8 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Grate 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese on the small holes of a box grater (generous 1/3 cup). Pick the leaves from 6 to 8 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop until you have 1/4 cup.

  5. When the lentils are ready, taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Remove the pot from the heat.

  6. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the Parmesan and toss until melted and a shiny coating on the mushroom forms. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the parsley and stir to combine.

  7. Divide the soup into between 4 to 6 bowls. Top with the cheesy mushrooms, and serve drizzled with olive oil on top.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions

  • Any type of small, nutty mushroom like girolles, pioppini, or even finely sliced fresh porcini would work great in place of chanterelles.
  • Opt for Umbrian Castelluccio lentils or any type of brown lentils that can hold their shape.
  • Grana Padano cheese can be used instead of Parmesan.


Dairy free/vegan:
Cook the mushrooms in olive oil instead of butter and skip the Parmesan.

Make ahead: The soup and the mushrooms can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Rewarm separately and top the soup with the warm mushrooms.

Storage: Once cool, refrigerate the soup and mushrooms in separate airtight containers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw before reheating with an additional splash of hot water or vegetable stock.