A traditional Middle Eastern lentil soup with potatoes and carrots. Perfectly spiced, healthy and completely delicious, made very simply in 30 minutes. This recipe has all the steps you need to perfect this Middle Eastern staple either for a starter or main meal option!
What is Middle Eastern Lentil soup?
It’s a staple soup in the Levant region. The most important parts of the base are the lentils, broth, and spices especially cumin powder. The cumin is used both for flavor and for digestive purposes. Arabs sometimes find lentils hard to digest and gas forming, and cumin revs up digestive enzymes to help you digest food easier. Iome people keep it simple with pure lentils and spices, but I like to add a few vegetables like potatoes and carrots to offer a hint of creaminess and sweetness and body to the soup. It’s served with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, usually one chopped fresh parsley, and sometimes fried pita bread croutons, although I don’t usually bother. It’s a powerhouse of nutrition and substantial enough to be a meal on it’s own!
What are the health benefits of lentil soup?
This article gives you a great overview of the different health benefits of lentils. In summary:
Polyphenols: Lentils are a fantastic source of polyphenols (compounds that fight against harmful agents in the body like UV rays, heart disease and cancer).
Protein: They are high in protein, which is why vegetarians and vegans should really emphasize their intake.
Iron: They are a good source of iron (1 cup of lentils
Fiber: They are full of fibre, great for keeping your digestive system moving and also great for keeping you full for longer.
They are also a good source of magnesium and folic acid.
How to make lentil soup:
Very simple! You sauté the onions, carrots and potatoes in olive oil, then add the rinsed lentils and saute those for a few minutes too. In goes all your seasoning and your broth ( I usually just use stock cubes and water). You can use either vegetable stock or chicken stock cubes. The entire mix comes to a boil, and then continues on a rolling simmer for 25-30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through.
Optional: the thickener:
I’ve made this recipe both with the butter flour thickener added to the soup and without. There’s barely any difference, but it’s slightly richer if you add the butter/flour mix. You can do it either way!
How to blend lentil soup:
Some people may choose to keep the lentil soup chunky, but I think it becomes magical once it’s creamed with an immersion blender or regular blender.
If using an immersion blender: You can blend the soup directly into the pot
If using a regular blender of food processor: transfer the soup in batches to the blender to avoid overfilling and blend until desired consistency.
I like to leave a few chunks of potatoes and carrots, but have the majority of the soup totally blended through.
How do I store leftover lentil soup?
In the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Either way, when reheating, just add a little water to thin it back to desired consistency.
Is this lentil soup vegetarian/vegan?
It’s vegetarian if you use a vegetable stock cube, and vegan if you omit the butter/flour mixture, so definitely adaptable!
What are the calories in this Middle Eastern lentil soup?
Under 250 calories of goodness a bowl!
How to serve lentil soup:
With a lemon wedge on the side, green onions, and green olives is how we do it in Jordan 🙂 Fried pita bread croutons are optional but always appreciated.
Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1-2 carrots, finely diced
- 1 peeled potato, finely diced
- 1 cup red lentils
- 6 cups water
- 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/2 tsp salt, plus any extra to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 heaped tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp butter
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the diced onion, carrot and potato. Sautee for about five minutes until onions have softened, stirring occasionally.
- Rinse the lentils well, removing any debris. Add to the saucepan, and saute for three minutes, stirring constantly so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the six cups of water, the stock cubes, and all the dried herbs plus the salt and pepper.(The dried mint all the way through to black pepper). Let the soup come to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to medium and let the mixture cook uncovered for 25-30 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables are cooked through.
- In a separate small skillet, add the butter and let it melt over medium heat, then add the flour, and whisk constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add this to the lentil soup pot.
- Once soup is totally cooked through, use an immersion blender or a normal blender (And blend in batches), and blend soup to desired consistency. I like it creamy and smooth but with a few chunks of veggies.
- Serve hot, with a slice of lemon, and green olives on the side.
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