The first time I tried a traditional Middle Eastern lentil soup was from a little Mediterranean restaurant in Oakville Canada called Montfort. I was immediately obsessed. I have never quite tasted a soup so rich and creamy without using any cream. I guess the creaminess comes from the starch from the lentils!
I love the combination of spices and flavors and the squeeze of lemon to finish. It’s been years since I’ve been able to get my hands on that lentil soup, which led me to try and recreate a recipe of my own. Most Middle Eastern lentils soups are fairly simple - lentils, spices, vegetables and broth. I added a bit of chili flakes for heat, turmeric and cumin which are common spices used in lentil soup, but it’s the lemon that really makes this soup incredible.
MIDDLE EASTERN LENTIL SOUP
(serves 5 - 6)
prep time - 10 minutes
cooking time - 70 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes or crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup yellow split peas or red lentils
1/4 cup of short grain brown or white rice
8 cups broth
salt and pepper to taste
plain yogurt and parsley for garnish
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium heat.
Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
Add the celery, carrots, garlic, and spices and sauté until fragrant, roughly 5 minutes.
Add the split peas or lentils, rice, and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until lentils and rice are tender, roughly 1 hour. You may need to add a bit more broth if the soup becomes too thick.
Add the juice from one lemon and add salt and pepper to taste. Or alternatively, you can serve the soup with the lemon on the side and people can add their own.
Garnish with plain yogurt and parsley.
Soup can be stored in the fridge for 4 - 5 days. The lentils will absorb quite a bit of broth. You can add broth to the soup to thin it our before serving.