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December 20, 2010

Recipe for Armenian red lentil soup

Armenian red lentil soup

Last week I had my jar of red lentils out to make vospov khyma, an Armenian side dish, and that put me in a red lentil frame of mind. And maybe in an Armenian frame of mind, too. This soup also hails from Armenia, a landlocked country that draws culinary influences from Russia, Turkey, Greece and Eastern Europe. I made the soup with bulgur wheat, but you can substitute rice for the bulgur to make the soup gluten-free, and water for broth to make it vegan. If you don't have Aleppo or urfa biber -- both varieties of Turkish pepper -- you can use red pepper flakes, but I encourage you to try the slightly smoky, slightly sweet Turkish peppers (available online from The Spice House or Penzeys). You'll want to make room for one or both on your spice rack. The consistency of the soup should be creamy as the lentils collapse into the broth.

Armenian red lentil soup

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
2 cups red lentils (or a mix of red and white, or red and brown), rinsed and drained
1 cup rice or bulgur wheat
1 sprig of fresh thyme
A big pinch of Aleppo or urfa biber pepper (or red pepper flakes)
10 cups water or chicken or beef broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
2 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus a bit of lemon zest (zest the lemon first, then juice it)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Directions

In a 5-quart  Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent but not yet brown. Add the lentils, bulgur, thyme, and Aleppo pepper, and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the water or stock. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the lentils and bulgur are soft. Stir with a wooden spoon to encourage the lentils to "melt" into the liquid. Taste, and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

The soup should be a happy, rustic consistency. If you'd like it smoother, have at it with your immersion blender.

Serve hot, topped with a generous amount of chopped parsley.

Print recipe only.

Comments

1
Posted by: Kalyn | December 20, 2010 at 07:18 PM

Oh yes, I would love this one.

2
Posted by: Knox Gardner | December 21, 2010 at 05:46 AM

That looks so freakin' amazing! You know the Armenian delis in Watertown/Boston. There's a few right next to each other and Persian bakery down the street.

Ah heaven!

3
Posted by: Jeanette | December 21, 2010 at 06:54 AM

I love lentil soups and this sounds like a tasty one!

4
Posted by: Lydia | December 21, 2010 at 08:19 AM

Kalyn, I think mint from the garden would work in this soup, too -- a combination of flavors we both enjoy.

Knox, yes, one of the things I miss about being in Boston full-time is access to the wonderful Watertown markets. Now it's a field trip to get there!

Jeanette, this is a bit different than traditional lentil soups. I hope you like it.

5
Posted by: PJ | December 21, 2010 at 11:27 AM

Here's another red lentil soup I love, I first got the recipe out of the Chicago Tribune in 1997! It's also Middle Eastern in origin, and called Shorabit Addas. I made it just last week.

http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/red-lentil-soup-with-chicken

I do it a bit differently, making the stock a day before and putting the soup together the next day. It's amazingly delicious.

6
Posted by: susan g | December 21, 2010 at 05:17 PM

So many soups! I've made a relative of this from The Soup Peddler. His has dried apricots, I used pears, which works. My first was Egyptian (Time-Life Middle East, a simpler recipe), which my then young children would eat. Winners all around!

7
Posted by: pam | December 21, 2010 at 07:49 PM

One of these days I'm going to find a lentil soup that I like. I am determined to like lentils.

8
Posted by: Lydia | December 24, 2010 at 06:48 AM

PJ, thanks so much for sharing another great soup recipe. I need to use red lentils more often!

Susan, don't you just love The Soup Peddler? I've been recommending that book all year; it's one of my favorites. Great stories and great soups -- what's better than that?

Pam, please keep trying. Mix the lentils with something you know you like. (My mother used to do that to get me to eat spinach, and now I love it on its own.) I'll keep posting lentil soup variations here, too.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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