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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mediterranean Lentil Soup

Syrian cooking does not include many varieties of soup, possibly because most of the dishes are 'soupy' and served with rice. However, this is a very traditional soup (with my little twists of course!) and is often served with kibbeh. I like to prepare a pot of this at the beginning of the week and heat some up for a quick lunch or after school meal. It is common to add shredded beef to the soup but in an effort to 'health-ify'  our food I almost never do that. Using vegetable broth will make this delicious soup vegan and I'm seriously in love with the high fiber and protein content in lentils! This soup is so easy to customize...feel free to add some leafy greens or celery...I like to switch up my additions and if I puree the soup at the end no one ever knows ;) 

Serves 6

-1 teaspoon olive oil
-1 medium onion, chopped into small cubes (about 1 cup)
-1 teaspoon cumin seeds (or a spice mix called "panch puran" which consists of fenugreek, mustard, fennel, black caraway and cumin seeds)
-3 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
-1 cup small red lentils
-1 cup shredded or finely diced sweet potato (or carrots)
-2 tablespoons uncooked rice
-6 cups broth (you may need 1 more cup if your heat is too high as the lentils cook)
-1 teaspoon ground coriander
-1 teaspoon ground or fresh ginger
-optional: 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
-salt to taste

Optional garnishes: 

-lemon wedges 
-fresh parsley or mint leaves
-pita chips

To Make
-Heat oil in a deep pot and add onions and cumin seeds. Sauté until onions are translucent, then add garlic and continue to sauté until onion and garlic have browned. 
-Add lentils, carrots, rice, broth, coriander and ginger (plus optional lemon pepper) and bring to a boil. Taste the broth mixture and add salt as needed. Once boiling, give the mixture a stir and then place the lid on the pot and turn heat to low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so as the lentils will settle on the bottom as they cook. If your mixture looks too thick, add more broth. The soup is ready when the lentils and carrots are soft. The ingredients will have cooked together and will have sort of 'melted' into the broth. You can either puree the soup for a smooth texture or keep it as is for a chunky consistency. I like to leave it slightly chunky.
-Serve with optional garnishes.

*You can easily make this in a slow cooker by throwing all the ingredients together and cooking on low for about 3-4 hours*

*If you are going to reheat the soup you will probably need to add a little water or broth because the lentils will cause the soup to thicken when cooled*

Warm up this winter season with some of my other SOUP recipes...I'm a huge fan of all them! 

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  1. I was so excited to see this post because I was looking for a great lentil soup recipe for dinner tonight and luckily you posted just finished cooking and I stole a bowl and am seriously in heaven right now...I can't wait to serve this to my hubby tonight. Thanks for making me feel like I know what I'm doing in the kitchen

  2. wow, I gotta hand it to you on the incorporation of sweet potatoes into this soup! Luckily I had some leftover from Thanksgiving so throwing this together was a breeze. The flavor combination of lentils, fresh lemon and fresh mint is seriously mind blowing...this is the most flavor deep lentil soup I have ever tried :D

  3. Where can you find panch puran, the spice mixture?