My grandmother’s lentil soup is also my mother’s lentil soup. She learned how to make it from my grandmother. And I learned how to make it from her...so it's also my soup!
Lentil soup apparently goes way back, so way back that it is actually mentioned in the bible! I won't take the liberty to mention by whom, but who knew?
The aroma of this delicious soup when I walked in the house, my grandmother's or my mother's house, was so amazing on a cold wintery day. I still smell it every time I cook this soup. It takes me back to being a child when I was only willing to eat one soup, my mother's lentil soup.
In Egypt the soup is commonly puréed and is usually consumed in the winter. Since my grandmother was an Egyptian jew this is the way I am accustomed to making it. My mother used a "moulin" which is a food mill. She bought me one too that I used for years. But eventually a few years ago I moved on to a stick hand blender. It has become my best friend!
But this is not only about the lentil soup for me.
The blue soup plate that lays on top of the blue dinner plate is also very special to me, along with the memory of this soup. They belonged to my mother.
I moved to England in the 60s with my parents for 7 years before going back to my homeland of Israel. It was a cold, snowy year, apparently the coldest winter in 20 years. So we were told everywhere we went.
Coming from a tiny Mediterranean village in the Galilee region of Israel, this was not just a culture shock, but a physical one too! Not only did I not know one single word of English, but I also was not accustomed to this dramatic climate change.
The first dinner set that my father went out to buy, (he was the only one that spoke English when we arrived) was this blue and white set. My mother was ecstatic when she saw this, telling us that those same dishes were the ones her mother had pre Holocust in Czechoslovakia. Growing up, every time she served food in these dishes she mentioned that they were just like her mother's dishes and the food tasted better in them.
I may not have agreed as a child, but now I can tell you for sure that the food tastes better in these plates that belonged to my mother.
So let me show you how to make this soup full of goodness!
This is what you will need: All spices can be adjusted to taste
1 tablespoon Osem chicken flavored soup mix (it's vegan) or any bouillon soup mix you like 3 tablespoons olive oil
1lb orange dry lentils (some call them red lentils) or any lentils you prefer
½ cup chopped parsley, cilantro or both (I use both)
A few basil leaves for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 carrots peeled and cut into cubes
1 small sweet potato peeled and cut into cubes
1 large onion chopped
Water to cover lentils
Osem is an Israeli bouillon vegan chicken flavor soup mix (there is also a real chicken flavor available) that adds a really good flavor to soups. I grew up with it as did my kids and I believe no soup should go without it. It is available through my link at the bottom of the page but you can get it at most supermarkets nowadays in the International isle of the Jewish food section.
Rinse dry lentils in cold water, pick out any foreign bits and pieces that are sometimes mixed with dry lentils, drain and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover about an inch and a half above the lentils. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes on low to medium heat.
In a pan heat oil and fry onions until they are translucent and a yellow-light brown color. Add dry spices, stir and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add parsley and cilantro. Stir in with spice mix. Add chopped garlic, mix and add cubed carrots and potato. Mix all ingredients well and cook for about 5 minutes. Sautéing all the spices with the onions and garlic before adding them to your soup opens up their flavors.
Add all sautéed ingredients to your soup, if water has been absorbed too much add a little more. Cook soup covered on low to medium heat for another 15 to 20 minutes until carrots and potatoes are soft.
Turn off heat and with a stick hand blender purée the soup but not to a super smooth pulp. I usually stop short of smoothness, I like a few little bits of carrots or lentils to remain mixed in the soup. It gives it a better texture and flavor. Of course if you like a very smooth and creamy soup just purée it more. Add basil leaves in the middle of each plate for garnish and an added delicate flavor.
Enjoy this great tasting soup on a nasty cold day with a fat slice of fresh bread and butter. Oh, and it's vegan too!