Lebanese Lentil Soup of Love

Lentil soup

For me, lentil soup is a staple. It embodies the warm coziness of a rib-sticking meal, yet it is so virtuous and healthy – not to mention flavorful! I love lentils because they are great at taking on any flavor combination you desire – Italian, French, Lebanese, Indian – they show up in almost all cultures . . . I end up making a big batch of Lentilly soup with whatever odds and ends I have around about once per week. We tuck into it for a simple lunch with a nub of bread and small salad or for a hearty dinner – accompanied by a bigger salad and some fruits.

Little Lentils, those masters of disguise, I praise thee! My current favorite variation on the classic Lentil soup recipe is one of Mark Bittman’s.

It almost exactly mimics the glorious and light Lebanese Lentils Dave and I fell in love with at a small and unassuming restaurant, Madena of the Pearl, in-- you guessed it-- the Pearl District.

Serves about 8

1 c. brown or yellow lentils, rinsed
7 c. water
2 large onions, sautéed
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
a few good cranks of fresh pepper
1/2 c lemon juice (I used lovely Meyer lemons, most recently)
green onions and/or cilantro, for garnish

Place lentils, water and salt in a pot and cook over a medium heat until the lentils are tender but still intact and slightly firm. Meanwhile, sautee the onions, and garlic in the oil, stirring until the onions are golden brown. Add the onion/garlic mixture with its oil to the lentils, then stir in the lemon juice. Serve with extra lemon wedges and fresh parsley or green onions, if you have them.

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