Eat Well: French Lentil Soup with a side of Encinitas

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks mom!
I clicked on Rebecca's (this) blog yesterday and smiled when I read her post on neighborhood love, because the day before I had written, by sheer coincidence, a similar post. This probably has to do with the fact that Rebecca and I vibrate on similar wavelengths, but whatever the reason, it’s fun to accidentally continue the conversation about favorite local haunts. Here’s mine!

I am a huge fan of Encinitas, a town I have lived near my whole life, and where I raised all three of my children. It is one of the best beach towns in San Diego and like a good wine, has gotten better with age.
Swamis beach, Encinitas

Even though my house lies a few miles from the town center, in recent years I have spent increasing amounts of my free time there. It is my dream to someday live within walking distance of the village, but in the meantime, I feel lucky to live close by and will continue to take advantage of all that Encinitas has to offer. I go to yoga there, walk on the beach, meditate in the Self Realization Fellowship gardens, eat, frequent the breathtaking library with ocean view (and fabulous coffee cart), and shop (I am a big supporter of the Buy Local movement and try to, whenever possible, shop within a few miles of home.).
SRF, lit up for the holidays

There is something for every budget in Encinitas…several fabulous resale stores, gift shops of all kinds, plus my favorite clothes store, Icons, next to the new Whole Foods. Soon we will have a farmer’s market on Wednesday nights, too. Wonderful cafés abound. One of my favorites is across from my yoga studio, a small Viennese bakery and café with delicious sandwiches and soups (not to mention their to die for pastries). Larry and I often go there for lunch after our weekend walks on the beach. Classical music caresses the air and the food is like home. Their French lentil soup is scrumptious and it inspired me to create my own version at home, so here it is. Make sure you buy the small French green lentils…it makes all the difference (they have them at Whole Foods).

French Lentil Soup

A few tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, white and tender green part only, sliced thinly
2 cloves smashed garlic, chopped
1 large shallot chopped (optional)
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped parsnips
2 cups green, French lentils, washed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 cups vegetable broth (or 4 cups broth and 4 cups water)
1 box Pomi or 1 can Muir Glen chopped tomatoes
¼ cup red wine (or to taste)
3 T fresh tarragon, chopped

In a large soup pot, cook vegetables in oil until tender. Rinse lentils and add to veggies with thyme sprigs, bay leaf, broth, water, pepper, salt, cumin and tomatoes.
Bring to boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30-45 minutes.Add more broth if too thick. Add wine and tarragon at the end and cook a few more minutes. Serve in bowl, with salad and crusty bread for a complete meal.



For those of you planning on visiting San Diego, you can take the Coaster (train) to Encinitas and walk everywhere from the station. You can also camp next to the beach at San Elijo Campgrounds and walk to the village from there. Here are some of my favorite spots in the village.

Darshan Bakery and Café: A little hole-in-the-wall where everything is made from scratch and is delicious.

Self Realization Gardens: Breathtaking gardens on the cliff overlooking the ocean. Free admission. (Self Realization gift store across the street has fabulous gifts, too.)

Swami’s Beach: at low tide there are tide pools to explore but the beach is spectacular year round.

Swami’s Café: Delicious and casual, “very Southern California” breakfasts and lunches. Try the Acai Bowl for a special treat. I also like the squash mole enchiladas. Outdoor seating, only.

The Lumberyard: great stores and eateries. Try the gelato at Bubby’s and the best chocolate in the west at Chuao Chocolatier. Make your own necklaces at Beads and More. The Third Corner Wine Shop and Bistro has an amazing and reasonable happy hour menu. I love their local mussels.

The Black Sheep: If you like to knit, this is a dream store.

Anahata Yoga: there’s lots of yoga happening in Encinitas, but this is my studio. The teachers are fabulous and I love the atmosphere. Compassionate and healing.

Consignment shops: There are too many to talk about, but my favorites are Sheri’s Designer Resale, Home and Double Take. For Kids there’s The Outgrown Shop.

Honey’s: my favorite breakfast spot. Green omelet and the Acai bowl are my favorites.

Icons Clothing Store: This is my FAVORITE clothing store. They have incredible sales and the clothes are unique and fun.

Queen Eileens: Fun gift store with unique gifts for everyone. Really good prices and lots of beautiful jewelry from Bali. (Bracelets are all $5 and necklaces $10).

Q’ero Restaurant: My favorite splurge restaurant. Fabulous Peruvian food with wonderful atmosphere. I love their Sangria. You need a reservation as it is very small.

Encinitas Library: Gorgeous architecture, breathtaking view, free music, and of course plenty of books. (Great used bookstore adjacent, too.)

A little further north (in Leucadia) you will find:

Lou’s Records: A real Encinitas institution. Used and new CD’s and LP’s.

The Pannikin: Fabulous coffee roasting house in the historic 1888 Encinitas Santa Fe Railroad station building. Great food, too, especially the pastries (their orange rolls are to die for!)

Daisy B: Unbelievably beautiful children’s clothes. High end but her sales are amazing.

(I could go on but I'll stop.)
(For more information about Encinitas, go here or here.)



Aimee Desiree | 4:38 PM

We're renting in La Jolla - We love it, but don't have the millions to buy - and are hoping to move to Encinitas. It's such an awesome beach town! I love Honey's and Swami's. I'll have to check out your other rec's. My dad maintains that the #1 brain food is lentils, so I'm going to make this for him!!

Jenny | 5:44 PM

aaaand I'm homesick. Good thing I'm moving back next year!

Lindsay at Bliss & Whimsy | 6:50 PM

We recently moved closer to Encinitas, but have yet to check it out... Thank you so much for the tips. Totally excited to go explore!

Life's a Potty | 8:09 PM

This is our home! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Love raising a family here as well. Don't forget about Elizabethan Cupcakes. One of our favorite spots.

Laural Out Loud | 8:38 PM

The Self Realization Fellowship gardens are one of my favorite places in North County! We used to live in Encinitas (we're in O'side now) and it really is a wonderful, enchanting place. I'll have to come over for the night market- that sounds like so much fun!

dmat | 8:56 PM

I live in San Clemente but work in San Diego, and if I ever had to move closer I'd move to Encinitas. Love that little beach town (but I love my own as well). I'll have to check out some of these places you mention. Thanks!

Unknown | 9:31 PM

My old stompin' grounds! I live in Las Vegas now but earned plenty of sunburns at Swami's. I was born in Oceanside. We lived in Leucadia for a while and as teens, my brother and I would ride our bikes to the beach, and walk them all the way down the steps, can you imagine! I also lived in Cardiff for a while, with my grandparents. Of course all 3 cities were combined and is now called Encinitas. My dad (recently passed) is a retired Encinitas firefighter!

Anonymous | 1:47 AM

Hmmmm. I adore lentil soup, and this one looks interesting.

If any of you readers have made it, maybe you'll consider posting if it was as good as it looks?

ps. SO GLAD Eat Well is back!

Katie | 6:26 AM

Off the subject, I am planningon making you Mac and cheese for my sons 2 Bday on Sunday and I can not find the Tilamook locally. Is there a cheese that compares or you suggest to take the place of this. Thank you!

Wendy Woolf | 7:16 AM

Anon..This soup is amazingly ...I made it two weeks in a row and couldn't get enough of it!

Katie...any good quality extra sharp cheese works.

Flambo | 9:34 AM

WWW - Since you live in Encinitas, and I KNOW you are a theatre-lover, check out Intrepid Shakespeare's production of TURN OF THE SCREW at San Dieguito Academy! My husband directed it. And I'm a huge fan of your daughter's. (I secretly wish I would run into her when she's down here one of these days - I have a daughter Archer's age and I think they would LOVE each other) The show closes this weekend! Hope you can make it. :)

Bearca | 10:01 AM

Encinitas is my hometown too! So happy to see such a wonderful town get some love. We live in Orange County now, but my heart will always be in Encinitas.

Stephanie | 10:26 AM

I grew up part of my life in Encinitas and I get to come back for a visit with my 2yo in June. I cant wait for moonlight beach and a carne asada burrito from Juanitas. Thank you for listing some of your favorite spots, we will be sure to hit up at least a few while visiting my favorite town.

Wendy Woolf | 5:34 PM

Flambo...we'll try to make it on Sunday night as my children's theater company is performing Friday and Saturday! I haven't seen a play in the new theater yet...(named after my drama teacher at San Dieguito, Mr. Liggett). Thanks for reminding me!

christine | 6:12 AM

I love lentils.

melissa.cureton | 6:46 PM

Just made this. We've never had lentils before. The baby ate three bowls. We all loved it!

nataloon | 3:11 PM

We just moved over here from the NYC area and live right outside of Del Mar (in Carmel Valley) and I LOVE Encinitas. Thank you for posting all about the awesome things to do there! When we decide if we're staying or going (I know, why would we ever leave, right?) we're definitely going to look at buying up there.

Anonymous | 12:01 PM

I just made the soup (forgot the tomatoes, though) and it was awesome! We had a similar soup in a German village we went to for a festival a few weeks ago. They added some wurst to it -- gotta German-ify!

Husband loved it. Baby liked it. 2 year old was being picky, but she does like lentils so we'll try again tomorrow with the leftovers.