I’ve been wanting to make a Middle Eastern lentil soup at home for the longest time, but somehow never got around to it. It was my go-to in the fall/winter when I lived in America – it’s warm, hearty, filling and healthy. This soup is an easy way to get more pulses into your diet and it’s packed with protein for vegans and vegetarians. When you run out of ideas for what to make for a healthy yet delicious non-Indian meal, this soup will come through!
Red lentils (masoor dal) are the lentils of choice here. This soup is traditionally made with this bright orange lentil which becomes much yellow-er while cooking. When you’re cooking with lentils like this one, make sure you wash them really well (at least 10-15 times) as they’re laden with preservatives and powders. In fact, on the first rinse, the water will become warm and cloudy: it’s unbelievable. I’m planning to look for an organic version of masoor dal but in the meantime, this step is very important. You might wonder – what makes this authentic Middle Eastern lentil soup different from a regular Indian dal? All the spices you need for this recipe will definitely be stocked in your Indian pantry: ground cumin (jeera), asafoetida (hing), bay leaf (tejpata) and turmeric (haldi). Still, the simplicity of the flavors, choice of spices, texture and the way it’s served all play a part. Pair it with other mediterranean favorites like hummus, a salad, spiced feta, pita bread or lavash and you’re all set for a healthy weeknight dinner.
Other than soaking, rinsing and pureeing, your effort required for this recipe is minimal and I promise – it’s totally worth it. This soup has become a staple in our home and I’m sure it will in yours, too. Try the recipe out and let me know what you think – leave a comment below or write to me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!
- 100g or ½ cup red lentils (whole masoor dal)
- 1 large onion, grated
- 2 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin)
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- ¾ tsp cumin powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 bay leaf (tejpata in Hindi)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper or to taste
- 625ml or 2½ cups water (adjust according to the thickness of soup desired)
- Rinse the lentils at least 10-12 times. Soak for an hour at least, rinse again and set aside.
- In a large pot, add the olive oil, asafoetida and grated onion and sauteé on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cumin powder, turmeric, bay leaf, soaked and rinsed lentils and 500ml (2 cups) of water.
- Allow the lentils to cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- When they are completely cooked, remove from heat. Add the lemon juice.
- Remove the bay leaf. Blend using an immersion blender (aka hand mixer) until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Add 125ml (half a cup) more water if the soup is too thick.
- Serve hot, drizzled with olive oil and with a wedge of lemon and pita bread/lavash.