Soul Soup


When I was sick over Thanksgiving weekend, my friend (and neighbor) Joan sent me an offer I couldn’t refuse: “How about lunch?  I made my favorite red lentil soup – I can bring you a cup in a couple of minutes. Made with fresh ingredients, olive oil and fresh lemon. Just say yes. Okay?”

SURE!  I emailed back, then called too, just to be sure she knew I was eager.  I happened to be starving and needed to get something together for lunch, so this was perfect.

This is an evolved version of the lovely soup that Melissa Clark wrote about in The New York Times, almost two years ago.  Since then, Joan has made it her own, as they say, and the results are delicious.  For the recipe (see NYT link) red lentils are cooked with onion, garlic, lentils and carrot, a little tomato paste and plenty of lemon juice.  The recipe says to purée half of it, but Joan wisely just mashes it up with the back of a spoon a little.  Seasonings include cumin and chopped cilantro, but Joan doesn’t care for the former and doesn’t bother with the latter if she doesn’t happen to have it.  Besides, parsley works, too, she mentioned.

She’s made another lentil soup I also love, a Lebanese version with spinach.  My notes say it, too, is from The New York Times, but I can’t find it online, although I do have it saved in a document, and have pasted it in below:

Lebanese Lentil Soup

1 bunch parsley
1 pound spinach
1 cup brown lentils
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon pepper
5 garlic cloves
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil

Wash parsley and spinach, tear off stems and wash and chop. Rinse lentils several times and soak in water for an hour. Drain excess water.  Bring salted water to boil. Add lentils. Reduce heat to medium, cover and boil for 15 min.  Stir occasionally and add chicken broth. Cook covered for another 20 min.  Add parsley and spinach and cook another 20 min.  Pound garlic with pinch of salt.  Mix garlic with lemon and olive oil.  Add to soup and simmer uncovered for 10 min.

(The wonderful lentil soup at Marhaba in Lambertville is topped with caramelized onion…)

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