Food & Drink

Oven-Baked Lentil Soup with Greens

The gardener at England’s Great Dixter passes along the warming vegetable soup he learned to make in Tennessee

Photo: Andrew Montgomery

“My dear friend Linda Smith lives in Memphis, where she has the most wonderful farm filled with hummingbirds. This soup is one of hers. I often make myself a big batch and then eat it for lunch throughout the week; the flavors will deepen the longer it is left. It’s simple, delicious and endlessly versatile. I am always adding different things to it depending on my mood and the season—kale, Swiss chard or spinach, or even parsley (stems and all) are all great additions. And if I feel that I am really in need of something wholesome and reviving, I will pop in a few skinless chicken thighs too. By the time the soup is cooked the meat will be soft enough to eat with a spoon, and the bones will have added lots of flavor.” —Aaron Bertelsen

From Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots: Planting Advice & Recipes from Great Dixter by Aaron Bertelsen (Phaidon, 2020).


    • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth

    • 1¼ cups dried yellow split peas

    • 1¼ cups dried green or brown lentils

    • 4 carrots, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

    • 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces

    • 1 leek, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

    • 2 bay leaves

    • 1½ tsp. ground cumin

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • 1 tsp. pepper

    • large bunch seasonal greens, stripped away from any large stems, then sliced

    • chopped herbs, to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  2. Put the broth, dried peas and lentils, vegetables, bay leaves, cumin, salt and pepper into a large heavy Dutch oven and stir to combine. Cover and bake in the oven for 1 hour, or until the peas and lentils are tender.

  3. Remove from the oven and fish out and discard the bay leaves. Stir through the seasonal greens until wilted. Just before serving, garnish with chopped herbs, then ladle the soup into warmed soup plates and serve with crusty bread and butter.