Middle Eastern lentil soup is delicious when done right – it’s warm, hearty, filling and nourishing. When I think of lentil soup, I think of the aromas of cumin and lemon. This soup is an easy way to get more legumes into your diet and it’s packed with protein for vegans and vegetarians. When you run out of ideas for what vegetarian protein to include for a healthy and delicious meal, this soup will come through!
Red lentils (commonly known as masoor dal in India) are the lentils of choice here. This soup is traditionally made with this bright orange lentil that becomes more yellow while soaking and cooking. When you’re cooking with lentils, make sure to 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.
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, asafoetida, bay leaf and turmeric. The simplicity of the flavors, choice of type of lentil and spices, texture and the way it’s served all play a part. Pair it with other mediterranean favorites like hummus, a beetroot or cauliflower salad, spiced feta, pita bread or lavash and you’re all set for a healthy weeknight dinner.
Other than soaking, rinsing and pureeing, the effort that goes into this soup is minimal and I promise – it’s totally worth it. It works great if you meal-prep as well – refrigerate or freeze the soup in glass containers and defrost when you’re ready to eat it. Don’t forget to garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley and a slice of lemon! If you try the recipe out, let me know what you think – leave a comment below or write to me on Instagram @theindiaedition.
- 150g or ¾ cup red lentils (whole masoor dal)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil or any other cooking oil
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing) (this ingredient helps to digest lentils)
- ¾ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 bay leaf
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ tsp salt 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 pan or pressure cooker if using, add the olive oil, asafoetida, bay leaf, onion, garlic and carrot. Sauteé on medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes until softened and fragrant.
- Add the cumin powder, turmeric, soaked and rinsed lentils and 500ml (2 cups) of water.
- If you are using a pressure cooker, cook for 2 whistles on medium-low heat. If you are cooking in a pan, allow the lentils to cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When they are completely softened and cooked, remove from heat.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Remove the bay leaf. Blend using an immersion blender 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.