Last weekend I threw Mika an Ancient Egyptian Birthday Party, which included a slumber party. I wanted the party to be as authentic as possible, which meant offering a dinner that might have been eaten by ancient Egyptians. I wanted to have a vegetarian choice, and I decided on Lentil Soup because it’s a dish that Egyptians eat today and that they are likely to have eaten back then. Plus, my friend Lola LOVED the lentil soup she used to eat in Egypt when she ate there, and I figured I should give it a try.
I found this recipe at waitrose.com, and made about 1 1/2 times as much as the original recipe called for. The results were spectacular. I neither like lentils or soup, but this was something else altogether. It had a creamy consistency and a strong, very well balanced flavor. It’s definitely something I will make again (and I finished all the leftovers).
I’m copying the recipe here, so I don’t lose it in case waitrose.com goes away.
Do try to make this recipe with red lentils. I found them at Mangals market in San Leandro, but I’m sure they are available at Indian stores, if not MIddle Eastern stores (the former are more common around here). The red lentils disintegrate nicely, but I’m not sure regular lentils would do as well.
Now, without further ado, here is the recipe:
Egyptian Lentil Soup
- 3 onions
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp + a pinch ground cumin
- 1 tsp + a pinch ground coriander
- 8 oz split red lentils
- 2 qts + 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- salt to taste
- juice of 1 small lemon
Chop 1 1/2 onions and thinly slice the other 1 1/2, set the sliced onions aside.
Heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a large pot. Add the chopped onions and saute until they become soft and just start to color. Add the garlic, cumin and coriander and mix. When you can smell their aroma, add the lentils and the broth. Mix well, bring to a boil and remove any scum that appears on the surface. Set the temperature to low and simmer until the lentils disintegrate, about an hour.
Meanwhile, heat 3 Tbsp. olive oil in a lidded frying pan and add the sliced onions. Cook covered over low heat until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Take off the lead, turn the heat to medium, and cook until they caramelize. Set aside.
When the soup is ready add salt to taste. Stir in the lemon juice and serve with caramelized onions on top.
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