Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup


For days when you feel like eating extra healthy, you really can't beat a lentil soup. Every 35 g serving of green lentils has 11 g of fiber, 10 g of protein, and no fat. Pretty incredible. I chose this recipe, courtesy of, because of it contains a stellar array of spices---I always get excited about diving into our spice cabinet. When I first finished making it and dug into a bowl, I found it to be a bit unsatisfying; the total absence of sweetness or richness hit me harder than I had anticipated. However, it held up better the next day, when I wasn't so tired from cooking and in need of some truly hearty sustenance. It would make a meager entree, but as a side dish or replacing a salad before a meal, this soup is really quite delicious.

Recipe adapted from
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 zucchini, chopped in 1/4 - 1/2 inch pieces
  • Other vegetables such as eggplant, if desired
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 teaspoon sumac
In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in 1/2 cup of the water for about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and any additional vegetables and saute for 3 more minutes. Stir in the spices and cook for 1 minute. Add the lentils and the remaining water. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked (the time may depend on what kind of lentils you are using). Stir in the salt, and add the parsley. Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice or sprinkle each bowl of soup with a little sumac.

Yield: 4 servings
Estimated Start-to-Finish time: Not given
Actual Start-to-Finish time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Substitutions: The original recipe called for red lentils, but I couldn't find any so I used normal yellow/green ones, which are much more fibrous anyway. I didn't have any coriander or turmeric on hand, and I decided that purchasing one new spice for this simple weeknight recipe was enough. Deeming turmeric to be more important (if nothing else, the color of the dish would have been totally different without it), I left out the coriander. I added a bit of extra cumin to replace it. I took the easy way out and used lemon juice instead of sumac. If I make this again, I might try to find some---I'm curious what it's like.


  1. Thanks for making this healthy soup to help me lose the baby weight. Wait, we didn't have a baby. I meant, "to help me lose the tasting menu weight." We definitely had some tasting menus.

  2. I love soups in cold weather! Lentil soup is also great for one's wallet, if one has all the spices already. The last soup I made was a chunky bean soup. I'll have to try this one out for sure. Thanks!


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