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A Taste of the Middle East in the West

Passport & Plate - Lentil Soup

USA | Thursday, February 12, 2015 | 5 photos

6 cups of water
6 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
1 pound of red lentils
Olive Oil
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 large yellow onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Carrots (Chopped) *optional*
Squash (Chopped) *optional
Lemon juice or fresh lemon
½ cup chopped parsley


How to prepare this recipe
1. Boil the water and add the bouillon cubes in a large saucepan. Stir until the cubes are dissolved. Then add lentils to the water. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. In a skillet, coat the bottom with olive oil over medium heat. Stir in garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is tender.
3. Stir the onion mixture and cumin into the lentils. Continue simmering until lentils are tender (about 10 minutes)
4. Puree (blend the soup) until smooth. Stir in the parsley. You can add small pieces of zucchini and/or carrots. Squirt a little lemon juice in the serving bowl.


The story behind this recipe
During Ramadan, a time for fasting and prayer, I was invited to my first Iftar. Iftar is the meal that occurs around 7:15pm, after the call of prayer, ending the daily fast. Whether fasting or not, no one is to be seen publically eating, drinking, or smoking from sunrise to sunset. I am not Muslim, but living in an Arabic/Muslim country, I welcomed the culture and was grateful to be a guest in my friend’s home. Usually, the fast is typically broken by drinking water and then followed by a soup for an appetizer. For the first time in my life, I was offered lentil soup. Somewhat reserved, I took in my first spoon and fell in love with the soup. The other courses were very tasty as well. But, I could not get the taste of the soup out of my head. Since that Iftar meal, I have tried ordering the soup at other restaurants. However, none could compare. When I moved back to the United States, I knew I had to have the soup and knew of nowhere to get it here. I messaged my Lebanese friend, who so graciously hosted me and my other friends for Iftar, and asked her for the recipe. I am so grateful for technology!!! She obliged and told me to inform her of how it taste. I shared pictures of the finished product. To my amazement, she approved. I was pleasantly surprised that a simple soup brought me back to a familiar place, a familiar time, and a familiar taste.

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