Lentil soup can be made in many variations. Lentil soup generally consists of red,green,brown,yellow,or black lentils. I used green lentils for this soup but you can use other lentils as well or a little of each even. Some like to add chicken broth or pieces of chicken to the soup. I decided to make this soup strictly vegetarian. Lentils are used in a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes be it salads,side dishes, casseroles, or soups. They are small, disc shaped legumes. They are very budget friendly and can be bought dry. Lentils are high in nutrition and shelf stable for up to 12 months, when dry. This makes them a perfect pantry staple.
When looking for facts about lentils, it is impossible to overlook their prestigious history. Recognized early on for their flavor and versatility, lentils were one of the first crops cultivated by ancient civilizations. Leading to their credibility as a super food lentils are still produced and valued by the Middle Eastern areas that first discovered them. Most of the lentils produced in the world today come from India.
Lentils are commonly used to substitute meat in vegetarian diets due to their high protein content. They are also a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Their high fiber content also help to manage blood-sugar disorder by preventing blood sugar level rising rapidly after a meal. And with their high folate and magnesium content, lentils contribute to heart and general health. And they are also good source of iron, without the added fat that are usually found in meat.
Lentil soup may include other vegetables such as carrots,tomatoes,celery,potatoes, parsley, and onions. Common flavorings are garlic, bay leaf, cumin,olive oil, and vinegar. It is sometimes garnished with croutons or chopped herbs or butter, olive oil, cream or yogurt. Indian lentil soup contains a variety of aromatic spices. In the Middle East, the addition of lemon juice adds a pungent tang.
This recipe does contain basic Middle Eastern ingredients including a chili pepper for some heat. Feel free to use other vegetables and spices outside of whats listed on this recipe. Although,however, some lentils may contain some small stones in them. Therefore, they should be thoroughly checked and rinsed before cooking them.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 2 cups of lentils (choose any color and brand you like)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of cardamon
- 3-4 plum tomatoes chopped
- 1 small chili pepper seeded and chopped
- 8 cups of vegetable broth or water
- 1/3 cup of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, chili pepper, bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in lentils, spices, cilantro and add water/broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. Puree with hand blender till smooth. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. If soup is too spicy, add a bit more lemon juice. Serve hot.
Yields 6 servings