Dishing Up the Dirt

French Lentil Soup with Fennel and Star Anise

Taylor and I are settling back into life at Tumbleweed Farm after 2 weeks of vacation. The late fall is the only time of the year when we can escape and it has been lovely. However, we have found that we are more relaxed when we can keep a close eye on things.  Particularly making sure our recently planted garlic doesn’t get eaten by gofers!

Safe and sound!

Now that we are back at home and cooking in our own kitchen I was excited to whip up a batch of this soup. Have you all eaten a meal at someone else’s house and for the life of you cannot stop thinking about it? That my friends is this soup. I’ve stayed up at night thinking about this meal ever since I had it two weeks ago in Montana. Seriously. It’s that good!

My brothers girlfriend Rebekah made this soup for us on a particularly chilly evening in Montana. It was lightly snowing outside and this soup was our ticket to feeling warm and cozy for the rest of the evening. I begged Rebekah for the recipe and she told me it was a modified version of Heidi Swanson’s Kabocha French Lentil Soup.

I knew I wanted to make this soup as soon as we got back to Tumbleweed Farm. And as luck would have it, snow lightly fell from the sky while I got busy in the kitchen. Perfect timing!

Tumbleweed Farm’s first snowfall of the year! It accumulated quite a bit more after I took this photo. Henry and Taylor spent the time chopping firewood while I cooked us all dinner. We were all very productive!


The original recipe calls for Kabocha squash (a winter squash) however, both Rebekah and I agreed this tastes amazing minus the fuss of the squash. Honestly, this is one of the best soups I’ve had in ages and it’s so stinking healthy and easy to whip up. I switched things up a bit to suite our needs and I am really happy with the end result. Dig in!


French Lentil Soup with Fennel and Star Anise

Prep Time: 10 mins.    Cook Time: 45 mins.    Serves: 4-6

  • 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 large leeks, diced, white and light green parts only
  • 1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped (reseve fonds for garnish)
  • Roughly 2 TBS fresh minced ginger
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 TBS grape seed oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste


  1. In a medium sauce pan combine the lentils, ginger, star anise and water. Simmer until tender. About 30 minutes.
  2. Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the grapeseed oil. Once heated through add the fennel and leeks. Cook until veggies are tender. About 5-8 minutes. Stir often.
  3. Remove the star anise from the lentils. Pour the lentils and broth into the leek and fennel pot. Season with salt. Let simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes allowing the flavors to blend.
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper, fennel fonds, and plenty of crushed red pepper flakes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread and red wine! Enjoy!


Please use this recipe as a guide. Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary.

Leave a Reply

7 thoughts on “French Lentil Soup with Fennel and Star Anise

  1. I’m so glad to see that you,Taylor, and Henry finally got the vacation you deserve! And to come home with a new recipe makes it all the better.

    I’ve never cooked with star anise but I’m curious. It looks like one mighty comforting soup!

  2. I have had Heidi’s version of this soup bookmarked to make for ages, I’ll definitely have to give it a try after your complimentary write-up… All though I might try it your way – no fuss sounds good! 🙂 Hope you had a lovely vacation!

  3. Welcome home 🙂

    I’m so glad you posted a new version of this recipe because I’m not a big kabocha squash fan. I love all of Heidi’s recipes, so I know this spin will be great. I’m such a lentil lover. Can we get shirts that say ‘lentil lover?’ Is it cold enough where you are to grow lentils? I’ve always wanted to grow beans (besides green beans).

  4. This sounds so different and interesting – I always love finding new ways to enjoy lentils and I’ve never seen a soup like this! Hope you had a great break and return home!

  5. That sounds fantastic! I could use a huge bowl of that right now 🙂

  6. I’ve been really wanting to try fennel lately as I’ve heard it’s a good detoxer (helloooo Christmas cookies) and this soup looks delicious!

  7. DMac says:

    Easy to make but fairly watery. Lacks zip inspite of the pepper flakes. I love the star anise flavor but the soup lacks something. I love lentils and leeks and fennel so I’m baffled at the outcome. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting flavor.

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