Legumes, domesticated in the Levant close to 10,000 years ago, are featured in some of the region’s oldest and best-loved dishes. Palestinian lentil soup, spiced with cumin and served with lashings of lemon juice, has become a symbol of home cooking.
Before cooking the lentils, rinse them well and check for any debris or other grains. Add the cumin in two stages: ½ teaspoon when frying the onions, and the rest after tasting the soup.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin, divided (optional)
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 1 lb / ½ kg red lentils
- 8 ½ cups chicken broth or water
- 1 bay leaf
- Leaves from 3 parsley stalks, finely chopped
- Leaves from 4 thyme sprigs
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoons salt
- For serving:
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Place the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and about ½ teaspoon of cumin. Saute for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the celery and carrot, stir, and saute for 5 more minutes until the vegetables soften, stirring occasionally.
- Add the remaining ingredients into the pot, increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid leaving a sliver of the pot uncovered and cook for about 1 hour. If you prefer a smoother soup: Let the soup cool for a few minutes, remove the bay leaves and transfer the soup to a blender. Blend until the soup is velvety and smooth. Transfer the blended soup back into the pot.
- Add the crushed garlic and cilantro into the soup. Mix and heat the soup over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve hot.