Mediterranean Style Red Lentil Soup

I had the pleasure of working at a number of special Middle Eastern restaurants and was inspired by the amazing lentil soups which were prepared from scratch. I tried Lebanese, Palestinian, Israeli, and Greek versions. In deference to their secret recipes, I have developed my own which mixes the best of what I had the blessing to try. The creamy mixture of spices, broth, red lentils, and aromatic vegetables make this soup a tasty as well as nutritious treat.

Mediterranean Style Lentil Soup

Ingredients

Eight cups home made or organic boxed chicken or vegetarian broth

Four cups red lentils dry

One celery stalk minced fine with leaves reserved

One medium carrot diced fine

One large yellow onion minced

Two large garlic cloves minced

1/2 cup frozen or fresh green beans cut in 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup frozen or fresh sweet peas

3/4 cup flat leaf parsley minced

One cup lemon juice

Spices: 1t cumin, 1 t. cardamom, 1 t. white pepper, 1t. lemon salt, 1/2 t. ceyenne, 1 t tumeric, 1t sweet paprika 1t cinnamon ground

6 T Canola Oil or Olive Oil your preference

1/4 t cracked nutmeg (optional)

1 t tomato paste (optional)

Cooking Method

1) Place three to four tablespoons of the oil in the bottom of a Dutch Oven shaped soup pot. Sautee diced celery and leaves, carrot, yellow onion, and at the very end minced garlic about 10 to 15 minutes until translucent. Remove vegetables to a side plate. Add two to three more tablespoons of the oil. Add the all the ground spices for thirty seconds on low heat. Turn off flame. Place red lentils in a collandar to strain, add to the pot. Coat with the spicy oil. Add back the sauteed vegetables. Turn to coat everything.

2) Add the broth. Bring to a boil. Add 3/4 of a cup of lemon juice. Simmer on low, stirring frequently for 20 minutes. Uncover the pot and add the green beans, peas, 1/2 cup of minced parsley and most of the remaining lemon juice. Stir in the tomato paste until dissolved and add the fresh cracked nutmeg. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring frequently, lid off, until lentils are thoroughly cooked, and not firm at all. If more broth is needed add water by the cup so that lentils are always submerged.

3) If desired you may blend the soup smooth in a blender or food processor reserving one cup for texture. Adjust seasoning adding more of any, to taste.

4) Serve with: Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley, Olive Oil, Greek Style Yogurt, Laban, or Sour Cream dolloped on top. Garnish with chopped scallions, parsley, dill or all three.

5) Serve with Grilled Pita Bread Triangles, Nan, or Crusty Baguette Warmed

As they would say in Greece, Opa or in Israel Le Chaim! To Life.

Sarah J Hall 2016 World Cuisine Today