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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Egyptian Lentil Soup

Lentil soup will heal you. It will make you whole. And fix all your problems. And find you lasting love. And lower your cholesterol.  Ok, only the last statement has been scientifically tested, to my knowledge. Well, and to be even more fair, I should mention that I made this soup a couple of weeks ago, and it has yet to find me lasting love. But it totally fixed all my other problems. And it was delicious.

I went to the grocery store hoping to find brown lentils to make a lentil soup recipe by Martha Stewart, to tack on to the end of "Martha Stewart week" (a theme I may have to revisit...I didn't even do any paper crafts, or creatively set a dinner table!) Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) the grocery store was out of both brown and green lentils, and only had red. Now anyone who is worth their salt in lentil-knowledge (does this sentence make anyone else chuckle a bit...I did while writing it, but that's probably just me) knows that brown and green lentils each keep their shape much more while cooking, while red lentils tend to be...fall apart-ish or mushy. So a soup like the one I had picked, which intended the lentils to hold up, would not be a great choice for substituting red lentils. That being said, even though mushy, red lentils are particularly delicious- just think of your favorite lentil heavy Indian dish.

So I got home intending to find a recipe for a soup using red lentils, and most of the other ingredients I had brought home with me. This is best part, guys. I got home to find my most recent Food & Wine Magazine open on the kitchen table. I hadn't read it yet, so one of my roommates must have been looking at it there. The page it was open to? Egyptian Red Lentil Soup. Seriously. It was a sign from somewhere. And besides the ingredients I had already picked out, the only other things it called for were things I had on hand, like lemon and plain yogurt, and certain spices. Meant to be.

So I made this soup. And I ate it. And it healed me.

Egyptian Lentil Soup
From Food & Wine Magazine February 2012

Special Equipment: A large soup pot (I used my beloved Mario Batali dutch oven, which is currently on sale, FYI), an immersion blender (though if you only have a standing blender you could blend this in batches*)


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced  (I used a can of diced tomatoes. It worked out great)
  •  2 cups red lentils (14 ounces)
  •  Plain yogurt, lemon wedges and warm pita, for serving 

1. Start your cooking process by preparing a mirepoix-  heat the butter in the bottom of your pan, add the chopped onions and cook for a few minutes, then add chopped carrots and celery, and lastly garlic. Cook until both onions and celery become translucent and somewhat soft. About 5 minutes.
 2. Add the spices to the pot, and heat until fragrant
 3. Add the tomatoes to the pan
 4. Add the lentils and the water
 5. Simmer for 30 minutes or more, until the lentils become very soft. 
 6. Removing from heat, use your immersion blender* to blend the soup until smooth
 7. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a squeeze of lemon


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