Filling and flavorful red lentil soup

Filling and flavorful red lentil soup

This simple soup has a bright, lemony flavor.

Red lentil soup
(Photo by Jessica Grann)
Red lentil soup (Photo by Jessica Grann)

I’ve been incorporating more vegetarian dishes into our meal rotation. This simple red lentil soup has a bright, lemony flavor and is also filling.

Red lentil soup is a common meal in Eastern Mediterranean countries. Every country has a different name for it, but I call it Ades soup. I’ve is also seen it labeled as Esav’s (Esau’s) soup because Esav in the Torah traded his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. It must have been a really good recipe!

Ades (red lentil) soup
Serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 large carrots, sliced
2 large celery stalks, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 32-ounce container (4 cups) of store-bought vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon cumin, or more to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne or Aleppo pepper
2 lemons
Parsley for garnish

Ingredients for red lentil soup (Photo by Jessica Grann)
Note: I often add ingredients to the pot one at a time when making recipes like soup; it saves time to chop the next vegetable I’m adding into the mix while I’m watching the pot.

Peel and chop the onion.

Heat the stove to medium, and let the pot warm up for a minute before adding the olive oil. I suggest using a medium-sized burner — avoid using a “power burner” because the ingredients are delicate and can scorch easily.

Heat the oil for 1 minute, then add in the onions and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped celery.

While the onions and celery are cooking, peel and chop the carrots and potatoes, then add them immediately to the pot with 4 of the cloves of garlic.

Cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.

Stir in the lentils and vegetable broth, then lower the heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and add the remaining minced garlic, bay leaves and 1 lemon, rinsed and halved with the rind still on. (I know it sounds unusual to cook a lemon, rind and all, but this infuses a lemony depth of flavor into the soup.)

Continue to simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.

Juice half of the remaining lemon; slice the other half into wedges for later use.

Turn off the burner, remove the bay leaves and stir in the remaining lemon juice.

Add in the salt, red pepper of your choice and the cumin.

Purée the soup to your preferred consistency. I like a smooth texture, so I run an immersion blender through the hot soup until it’s about half-puréed. (You could also remove half the soup and run it through a regular blender, but it creates more to clean up than an immersion blender. I rarely recommend kitchen tools, but an immersion blender is a must.) If you want a really smooth soup, purée it all.

Once the soup is blended, put the pot back onto the burner over medium-low heat. Cook for about 5 more minutes so the spices blend in well.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.

I like to garnish with fresh lemon wedges and chopped parsley to add a little color to the bowl. This soup can be cooked ahead of time and warmed easily over low heat, and the recipe can be easily doubled for a larger crowd. It also freezes well.

Vegetable-based soups can sometimes taste a little weak. My best tip to remedy this is to drizzle a little more olive oil into the pot — or even a splash of olive oil right across the top of the soup bowl.

I love to serve this recipe with a fresh baguette and plenty of good quality butter. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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