MENA Lentil Soup

A few months ago I joined the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) virtual cooking club. It’s been fun discovering recipes from various parts of the Middle East and North Africa. For this post I choose Egyptian Lentil Soup from the three choices that were presented by this month’s host
Arabian Mama. I love lentils and a bowl of lentil soup can be incredibly comforting.

I searched the internet high and low to get idea of the different versions of this recipe. There are a few choices out there, but they all had a few key ingredients in common: lentils, onion, garlic, carrot, celery and spices. Since we have permission to personalize recipes, I took some liberties with mine to adjust it to my preferences. One of said liberties that I took was using the same technique as our own Naanaa Dagh (oil infused with dried mint) and made Zireh Dagh to finish off the soup.

The end result is delish! The soup is hearty and I loved the subtle crunchiness of the cumin seeds in it.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 onion
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
4 garlic cloves
2 cups lentils
6 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 + 2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
salt & pepper
1 lemon
Pita bread

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Dice onion, carrot, and celery and saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until onion becomes translucent. I used red onions here as I ran out of white ones. But there is no difference as far as which you choose to use.

MENA Lentil Soup-2Wash lentils until water runs clear.

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Add garlic, turmeric and coriander to the sautéed vegetables. Continue cooking for about 3 minutes while stirring.

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Add lentils to the pot.

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Add vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes on medium low. Then season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 15 minutes longer.

MENA Lentil Soup-6Turn off heat and with a hand blender roughly puree the soup making sure that the vegetables are pureed. I like a rough puree for this soup as having some whole pieces of lentils in each spoonful gives it a bit of body and texture.

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Combine remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cumin seeds and warm on medium heat. As soon as the seeds/oil begin to sizzle and the aroma of the cumin rises turn off the heat.

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Ladle soup in bowls and add 1 teaspoon of the oil and cumin seed mixture on top of each bowl. Serve soup with wedges of lemon and toasted pita bread.