This soup is one of my favorite easy recipes to make, and is great for a winter weekday, when you just want something simple, warm, and full of flavor.
The recipe, originally from the Allrecipes.com website posted by JENP1, is closest I have been able to come to my favorite red lentil soup served at Mezze Bar in Auckland CBD. It was not originally a vegetarian recipe, but with the substitution of vegetable stock for chicken stock, and a few small tweaks of the spices, I do not think it has lost any of its flavor.
Red lentils, which are very high in protein, vitamins, and nutrients, are often used in Middle Eastern style cooking. Lentils were one of the first domesticated crops, but may have been eaten by humans almost 13,000 years ago. Red lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils, but that means they cook up quicker and you do not need to soak them overnight.
This recipe originally calls for fresh coriander, which is typical in a Middle Eastern dish, but I forgot to buy this ingredient at the store, so substituted with fresh chives. It still tasted nice, but would recommend going with the coriander for authenticity, if you have the option.
Lebanese Red Lentil Soup
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 450 grams or 1 pound red lentils
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon of black pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Bring vegetable stock and lentils to a boil in a large soup pot over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, onion, and spices and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes.
Stir onions into the lentils, and continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 10 minutes.
At this point if you are in a hurry, you can puree the soup in a standing blender or with a stick blender to get a smooth consistency, but I prefer to turn down the heat to low and let it continue to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, and the lentils will break down themselves.
Stir in the fresh coriander and lemon juice before serving, and garnish with feta cheese and a bit more coriander. Leave off the cheese if you want to keep this soup Vegan.