Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lebanese Lentil Soup With Toasted Orzo

This easy, creamy lentil soup is always on my menu. It's economical. It reheats well. It's good. My favorite Lebanese spices like cozy cinnamon and a dash of allspice show up here. As the soup simmers, warm aromas take me waaaay back to my beloved grandmother's kitchen. I often serve the soup with pita bread, rice or toasted orzo. Diced scallions, herbs and lots of fresh lemon juice make it sing. It's a light but nourishing soup that's welcome in both warm and cold weather. It's healthy too.

Instead of toasted orzo, serve the soup topped with rice. I love my rice cooker! If you have one, dinner is ready in a flash. Put the soup on the stove to simmer. Steam some rice in the rice cooker and you're on your way to a plant-based meal that's also a complete protein. We all know that plant-based eating is good for us. Middle Eastern cultures have been eating this way for centuries. Although I'm not a vegan, I try to eat many plant-based meals for health, environmental and spiritual reasons. Plus, I love a good soup. It's in my DNA to cook Lebanese food, my soul-food.

Lebanese Lentil Soup With Toasted Orzo Recipe

Makes About 7-8 Cups

Some Notes:

You can swap the vegetable bouillon and the water for 6 cups of your favorite stock or broth.

Keep the orzo separate from the soup if you're going to reheat it so it doesn't get mushy.

A microplane zester is helpful. I use it to mince the garlic directly into the soup pot.

Ingredients For The Red Lentil Soup

  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced 
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 lemons. Meyer lemons are nice.
  • 2 cups of red lentils, rinsed and drained. I use organic. 
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes. I use Rapunzel Brand. (optional)  
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice, plus a dash for serving
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, plus a dash for serving 
  • Salt and pepper taste. I use fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  • Olive oil for cooking

Ingredients For The Toasted Orzo

  • 1 cup of orzo
  • Salt to taste

To Serve:
Toasted Orzo (recipe below)
Pita bread
Pita chips
Steamed Rice. Jasmine or basmati rice is nice.
A dash or red chili flakes, Aleppo pepper or hot sauce
Fresh herbs such as dill, mint or parsley
Diced scallions
Toasted pine nuts or almonds
Drizzle of good olive oil
Lemon zest


Prepare the orzo by toasting it in dry skillet until golden brown. Cook it in boiling water with some salt according to the package directions. When it's done cooking, you can stir in some olive oil so it doesn't stick together. Set aside.

In a soup pot, saute the onions and celery with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of allspice, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, some pepper and a pinch of salt, on medium heat, until tender. Stir in the lentils, the bouillon cubes and 6 cups of water. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Stir in the minced garlic, a dash or two more of cinnamon and allspice and cook for an additional two minutes. Squeeze in some lemon juice to your taste. Serve with the toasted orzo, more pepper and/or any of the above suggestions.

Bon Appetit!   

xx ~ Jilly

No comments:

Post a Comment