Lentils are a staple in most Palestinian cuisines, as meat has traditionally been an occasional luxury. This is the most basic recipe for lentil soup -other versions include spinach, leeks, zucchini. My mother’s version of this soup does not even include carrots and celery, and most Palestinians do not add the tomato paste. At its most pared down version, there is little more than lentils, water, onion and cumin, and of course, lemon.
Incidentally, you will notice that almost every Palestinian lentil dish is seasoned with cumin. Why is that? Cumin is believed to have . . . *ahem* . . . anti-gas properties. So, lentils and cumin are a natural pairing! My recipe for lentil rice pilaf, or mujjadara does not have cumin in it simply because my mother omits it in that recipe, but most Palestinian cooks do use cumin with it.
Yield: About four servings.
2 tbsp grassfed butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 carrots, finely chopped (optional)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped (optional)
1 cup green or brown lentils, soaked overnight
6 cups chicken, lamb or beef broth, or water
1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp cumin
Sea salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in olive oil until just softened. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Pour in your lentils and broth. Add cumin and season with salt and pepper Stir in tomato paste.
3. Simmer until lentils are tender and soup is flavorful, about 45- 60 minutes.
4. To serve, drizzle bowls of soup with a little olive oil and squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon.
Serve with bread, salad