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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nourishing Lebanese soup customizable

 •  Minding your fruits and veggies

By Wanda Adams


Find food editor Wanda Adams' "My Island Plate" blog online every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at honoluluadvertiser.com/islandlife. She twitters about cooking, dining and other matters @wandaaadams on www.twitter.com.

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Feeling the need for something healthful and comforting, I took the advice of reader Susan Iwata, who recommended a Lebanese lentil soup flavored with cumin and cayenne and given texture by garlic and onion. It's a dish she got from www.allrecipes.com.

I found the recipe variations that commentators recommended quite interesting. Most helpful was one from a Palestinian woman who said you don't need to puree the soup if you don't happen to have a standing or stick blender, that if you cook it a bit longer the lentils will dissolve. I don't object to texture, so was happy to skip that step.

She also said she doubles the cumin. Another person said they add grilled chicken breast and cubed sweet potatoes. Another person said they sauteed onions, garlic, celery and carrots and made the soup with that melange. Susan said her friend used curry powder instead of cayenne and added a can of tomatoes.

Bottom line: This is one of those recipes that begin with a centerpiece (chicken stock and lentils) and after that, do what works for you.

This makes a lot; the recipe can be halved.


• 6 cups chicken stock

• 1 pound red lentils

• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 1 tablespoon minced garlic

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 1 tablespoon ground cumin

• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

• 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Bring chicken stock and lentils to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic and onion, and cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes.

Stir onions into the lentils and season with cumin and cayenne. Continue simmering until the lentils are tender, about 10 minutes.

Carefully puree the soup in a standing blender, or with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice before serving.

Makes eight servings.

Per serving: 276 calories, 7 g fat, less than 1 mg cholesterol