Saturday, 19 March 2011

Lentil Soup: Food for the soul





This classic Egyptian dish is a must in the cold days of winter. Lentil soup is warming, hearty, vegan friendly and is great to take on the go in a thermos mug for a quick lunch. Definitely one of my favorite dishes to have while curled up on the couch.

Lentils are a staple in Egyptian cuisine. The most popular dishes that use lentils are Koshari, Lentil soup, and Yellow Koshari. Lentils are considerably cheap, and is commonly known as the ‘poor man’s meat’. The protein to carb ratio is not bad for a legume, giving around 28 g protein and 60 g Carbs, to every 100g uncooked lentils. That’s not so bad considering that a little goes a LONG way with lentils.
Egyptians cook their lentil dishes using two types of lentils, Yellow lentils (which are orange in color) and Brown lentils. Yellow lentils are just a peeled brown lentil.

This recipe is a classic, given to me by the mother of my best friend. It’s fool proof and easy to make. Of course no two Egyptian lentil soup recipes are the same, but this is my favorite, as it incorporates different vegetables into it, without turning it into a vegetable soup.  It’s great for when you want to clean out your fridge. Another reason I love this soup, is because I feel like it’s a never ending pot. When re-heating you usually must add water to thin it out. Yummy, more for me!




Egyptian Lentil Soup with Garlic Croutons

by Ameirah Abou-Azama

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: soup/stew appetizer entree low-carb vegan vegetarian Lentil Egyptian winter





Ingredients (8-10 servings)

    For the Lentil Soup
    • 250 gm Dry yellow lentils (approx. half a bag of any brand)
    • 2 Liters Chicken or Vegetable stock
    • 1 Large Zucchini
    • 1 Large Onion
    • 1 Large Tomato
    • 1 Medium sized Potato
    • 1 Large Carrot
    • 2 Garlic Cloves
    • ½ tsp Cumin
    • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil or Butter (Optional)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • ½ cup Chopped fresh parsley
    • Lemon or lime cut into wedges
    For the Garlic Croutons
    • 4 Balady bread or brown pita bread
    • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil

    Instructions

    Croutons

    I love having croutons with my lentil soup. My favorite are the Balady bread garlic ones. Better than chips!

    Cut with a bread knife about 4 Balady bread into squares. In a pan, drizzle olive oil over the bread pieces, mixing it with your hands, separating the pieces. Add freshly crushed garlic (or powder for you lazy people), salt, and paprika or chili powder. Mix well, put in oven for about 10 mins on a high setting, or until crunchy.

    Soup Preparation

    Wash lentils, and wash & peel vegetables.

    Chop vegetables in halves, keeping them in large pieces.

    Bring stock to a boil, adding in pepper and cumin.

    Add in lentils and vegetables.

    Leave for about 40 mins, or until vegetables are very soft.

    Add water whenever needed.

    Take off heat, allowing soup to cool for 5 mins, and then puree the mixture with a hand blender.

    Add salt to taste.

    I always like to add in a handful of the chopped parsley to the pot in the end, it adds a fresh taste. You can opt to just use it as a garnish.

    Serve with croutons and lemon wedges.

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    My Experimentation:

    - I have added all kinds of vegetables, green pepper, even peas. Once I threw in a bag of frozen soup, and it still came out great.
    - The soup also works if you have nothing but the lentils in your cupboard.
    - Going low carb? Omit the potato, the soup thickens very well without it.
    Ready to Eat!
    - Adding fresh cilantro (coriander) instead of parsley and adding in a bit more cumin, gives it a whole different flavor. If you love Indian food, you might want to try that trick.
    - If you use fresh chicken stock, cut up pieces of the chicken and save them on the side, add a handful of chicken pieces to your bowl, and you have a complete meal; vegetables, carbs and protein.
    - Thick soup is amazing over rice. This is a great way to eat leftover rice, when there is nothing else in the fridge.
    - Make a lot in advance and freeze in 2 portion baggies. Be sure to allow the soup to cool though, hot bags of soup in the freezer rip open and make a mess. Take my word for it. 

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