Sunday, February 1, 2009

Egyptian-Style Lentil Soup for Souper Sundays

Happy Souper Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday too! For me, I'd rather have a bowl of soup than a Super Bowl, (except for the commercials and the half-time show), but if you are a fan, I hope your team wins. I was in a bit of a funk about what soup to make this week, one of those moods where you need to find just the right soup to fill a craving but you have no idea what that soup is. I also wanted to use what was in my pantry and fridge and not have to brave the stores where undoubtedly everyone would be buying ingredients for their Super Bowl party appetizers. I spied some lentils in my pantry cupboard and remembered this Egyptian-Style Lentil Soup I had marked to make. It is from The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein, (author of The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, a cookbook I have been cooking out of lately), and I liked the idea of the cumin, fennel and lemon combination that flavored it, plus I had all the ingredients I needed to make it on hand.

Donna Klein says: "This is my all-time favorite lentil soup. A source of nourishment in Egypt since the beginning of history. It has just recently become part of my culinary repertoire--after one mouthful. It's sure to become part of yours."

Egyptian-Style Lentil Soup
The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, by Donna Klein
(Makes 6 Servings)

1 small red onion (about 4 ounces), sliced into very thin rings
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions (about 6 ounces each), coarsely chopped
5 ounces (about 2 1/2 small) carrots, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 cups vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 small dried hot red chile pepper, left whole, or cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
Lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Place the red onion in an 8 or 9-inch pie pan and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, until ready to use.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat the remaining oil over medium-low heat. Add the yellow onions, carrots, celery, garlic, cumin, and fennel seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the broth, water, lentils, and chile, if using; season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils are very tender and the broth is slightly thickened.

Remove and discard the chile, if used. Stir in the reserved red onion with oil and the lemon juice. Season with additional salt and pepper as necessary. Serve hot, passing the lemon wedges separately if desired.

Per serving: Calories: 320, Protein 22g, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbs 39g, Dietary Fiber 19g, Sodium 367mg

Notes/Results: Delicious!  This is a wonderful soup with a great complexity of flavors. It has a nice spice from the cumin and fennel seed, a little kick from the chili and a bright, tangy taste from the lemon. It's hearty from the lentils and onions, but not too heavy. I did lighten the oil, using 2 Tbsp overall which was plenty and I used more (about double) garlic and lemon than the recipe called for. I also need to add more veggie broth (about 2 cups), as simmering the lentils soaked up quite a bit of it. The author didn't specify what kind of lentils so I went with the regular large, greenish-brown kind because I like the fact that they hold their shape and texture a bit more than the red ones do. This is a great, nourishing and healthy soup and one of the best lentil soups I have ever had. I will definitely make this one again.

Let's see who stopped by this Souper (Bowl) Sunday:

Two new friends are joining us this week, Crystal and Amir, at The Duo Dishes, blogging from Los Angeles. These two passionate foodies have a stunning soup to share that is actually two soups in one; their Chayote Squash and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. A love for playing with their food and experimenting with different ingredients, flavors and colors, led them to create this beautiful and creatively swirled soup.  

Christine from Kit's Chow is back with everyone's favorite comfort food, a good, steaming pot of Chicken Soup. Full of homemade chicken stock, lots of vegetables, smoked ham, ginger and egg, this soup is definitely good for the soul. I am not sure how good it was for the chickens though--you have to check out the really funny "chickens in the pot" pictures on her post to see what I mean! 

Kat from Our Adventures in Japan, decided to spice things up with Kim Chee Chige, a Korean hot pot of veggies, pork and spicy kim chee. A combination of "this and that", Kat feels it isn't truly authentic Korean food, with the miso, but it was flavorful and filling with the rice and Korean nori she added. This is a definite make again soup for her, especially after her husband, not a big fan of Korean food, declared it was "oishii", which means delicious in Japanese.

Joie de Vivre adapted a Martha Stewart Living recipe for a quick cioppino, the Italian fisherman's stew, and came up with her Joie de Vivre's Rockin Cioppino. Full of delicious clams, mussels and flaky white fish, this stew received the ultimate compliment from her five year old son, who loved it and asked for seconds. (Sounds like a little foodie in the making!)

Another new blogging friend is Tara from Beach Eats. Hailing from New York and another fan of having soup on Sundays, Tara has two soups to share. The first is a hearty Beef Barley Soup, full of flavor and made mostly from ingredients in her well stocked pantry.

Her second concoction is a hybrid Stracciatella soup, a combo of the traditional Italian Egg Drop soup and a healthier version of her husband's favorite Chickarina, made with chicken mini-meatballs and barley. It all came together in this yummy Italian Wedding-Style soup.

Ulrike from Küchenlatein is back with a delicious looking Hearty Lamb & Barley Soup. (Here is the link in English too). Chock full of root vegetables; potatoes, onions, parsnips and swedes (aka rutabagas), as well as green beans, this hearty, warming soup is the perfect dish to combat the cold, Northern Germany winter weather. Ulrike served it with some delicious looking homemade Granary Bread.

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is here again with a big bowl of Tomato Garlic Soup with Tortellini. A simple recipe from one of her many Moosewood cookbooks, she used cheese tortellini, topped it with parsley and Parmesan cheese and recommends serving it with a chunk of good Italian bread for dunking. In the mood for a good party?  Stephanie is the host of my favorite virtual gathering, Blog Party, and she just announced this month's theme; "Spice It Up!"  I can hardly wait!  You can get all the details at her blog.

Suzie from Munch + Nibble is back with another cold, refreshing soup for something many of us, (even in Hawaii), don't hear much about, "a hot February night!"  Her Chilled Pea and Mint Soup with Poached Prawns looks like the perfect antidote for a steamy Sydney evening. Peas and mint are a delcious combination that is only enhanced by the perfect poached prawns on top. Suzie has a family act going too, the beautiful photo styling was done by her eldest daughter!

The stone soup fable inspired Abigail from mamatouille to build a soup around her "stone" or her main ingredient of lentils this week. Her Stone Soup (with Lentils), combines them with lots of healthy ingredients from her fridge and pantry like sweet potato, carrots, turnip greens, cumin and coriander. Warming and good for you too, especially when served with some crispy wheat germ crackers.

Debbie from The Friday Friends and her blog devoted to soup, Ahh SomeSoups, read an article in Fine Cooking magazine giving methods for making soup without a recipe and found the outline for a hearty French Farmers Soup. Featuring dried baby lima beans and bacon, with lots of vegetables, a splash of white wine at the end to add a little acid, and topped with croutons, it was a big success. Both Debbie and her husband, not normally lima bean fans, really liked this rustic soup.

Looking for more ways to use up a jumbo bag of beets, Natashya from Living In the Kitchen With Puppies is here with a bright and beautiful Five Spice Beet Soup. Fifteen weeks of joining me for Souper Sundays (Can you believe it?! I will have to come up with a "souper" prize for her!) has inspired Natashya to branch out and try new flavors and ingredients in her soups. This tasty, thick, scarlet-colored concoction, flavored with Chinese Five-Spice powder is a great example of that and just might get me to love my beets! 

Wow!  Once again, I am amazed and delighted about all the wonderful soups and talented soup chefs out there. I love to see my old friends as well as make new ones over a delicious bowl of soup. Thanks to everyone who contributed their soups! I hope you get a chance to follow the links and visit all of their blogs and see what other delicious dishes they have been making.  If you want to join us and show off your latest soup or soup-like creation, click the Souper Sunday logo on the sidebar to get all the details. 

I hope your Sunday, whether spent over the Super Bowl or over a bowl of soup, was relaxing and fun.  Have a great week!


  1. I am totally amazed at the variety of soups that we are seeing. When I first joined you on Souper Sundays I thought I might have a finite amount of recipes to try - but my eyes have been opened to the possibilities.
    Love the Egyptian lentil soup - I have that book and will try it soon.

  2. great variety again! thank you again for this event!

  3. Oooh, they all look so so yummers! I'd love to try all of them, but especially that beautiful beet one - what a gorgeous color. Wish I could get beets in Japan!

  4. Deb, one more thing: your recipe reminded me that I put lemon in my lentil soup, too, I just forgot to write that in my recipe! We were soup sisters this week, hey. :)

  5. All the soups look good, especially your lentil soup - I LOVE lentils. Great to know you found a winning recipe and that you had all the ingredients in your pantry.

  6. many soups! I am amazed as well.
    They all look very good. We could all be making soups until the end of time.

  7. Thanks for including us! All of the soups look dee-lishis.

  8. Thanks for all the ideas, dear soup lovers. A great variety and thanks for putting this together, Deb. I am three weeks ahead with my souper ideas

    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  9. This is my favorite event, Deb. I adore soup and you've featured some great ones!

  10. Thanks for posting can't wait to try from mainlander tranplant from Port Lock.

  11. Thanks so much for hosting this wonderful event, Deb, and for your kindness in including me. I'm honored to be in such astoundingly delicious company. I don't know which soup to try first!

    I must say that the Egyptian lentil soup has my name written all over it. I love the combination of spices and any soup that includes a burst of fresh lemon is alright with me. Yum!

    Thanks again, you've made me day. :)


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