Somehow I ended up with a cold after Thanksgiving, meh. Naturally, all I have been able to think about is soup. Lemony soup. It’s the best for a cold and when the weather sucks, like yesterday did.
When I used to work at Temptations Cafe during school, I was addicted to their lentil soup. Temptations is a coffee and sandwich shop that is owned and operated by a Lebanese family. Their authentic family recipe is a secret, so to find something like it I Googled “Lebanese lentil soup,” and I found some very similar recipes with the main components being lemon, potato, spinach and cilantro.
After doing some research, I decided to make up my own version. This is what I came up with (and what I would do differently next time):
Lebanese Lentil Soup By: Meesh
- 2 quarts vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander seed
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 lemons, 1 peeled, 1 zested and both juiced
- 1 pound lentils
- 1 package frozen spinach, dethawed
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 bunch of cilantro, seeds and leaves separated
- 12 cloves garlic, 5 whole, 7 minced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- grated Parmesan
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
For the broth:
1 – Cook the lentils according to the instructions on package. When they are almost done (a little undercooked), strain them and set aside.
2 – Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a wok (you can use a sauce pan here, I’m just pumped about my new wok!)
3 – Add some oil in a the wok. Add half the onion, cilantro stems, cinnamon stick, handful of cooked lentils 5 whole garlic cloves and lemon peel. Cook until the onion starts to brown. Add the juice of one lemon to the mixture.
4 – Let cook for a couple more minutes, add the vegetable stock to the mixture. Add some salt and pepper. Let stock simmer for 30 minutes.
For the soup:
5 – In the meantime. Heat oil in a saute pan. When hot, add the minced garlic, the rest of the onions, potatoes, the remaining lentils, and more salt and pepper.
6 – When potatoes are cooked, add the mixture to a large pot. Set aside.
7 – When the broth is done cooking, strain the liquid into the potato mixture. Discard everything that was strained out of the broth. Add the thawed spinach, the rest of the lemon juice and chopped cilantro leaves
Sidenote: at this point in my soup process, I thought I wanted to make the broth thicker – so I used half the cooked lentils and pureed them with some of the vegetable stock to create a thicker mixture. Then, I added the thicker mixture to the rest of the broth. The two textures didn’t really mix well and my broth came out really uneven and inconsistent. That is why the recipe I give you uses no broth thickening technique. Suggestions are welcome. That is all.
Its thick and white because of the pureed lentils. Never again.
8 – Season with salt, pepper, ground cinnamon, and ground cumin to taste.
9 – To serve, sprinkle each serving with olive oil and parmesan cheese (I don’t think the Lebanese use cheese, but why not?) and garnish with cilantro.
Result: The Lebanese make a damn good lentil soup and I feel better already. Even with the texture issue, there is nothing wrong with a hearty soup in the winter. With this recipe, the broth will be thinner and texture should not be a problem.
Bonus: this soup is healthy and vegetarian!
Another issue I have is the color. How do you make vegetable stock browner? I know the lentil puree was part of the problem but I feel like there is an easy way I just don’t know about. Suggestions?