When I think about poor’s people foods from the Middle East, one of the first dishes that come to mind is lentil soup.
As I said before, in my Lemony Lentil Soup recipe, lentils, in all their varieties, are abundant across the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions. They are a great source of protein and fiber, and are rich in folate and manganese. Their very low cost and high nutritional value make them a favorite among many poor people around the world, which explains the vast variety of lentil dishes in places like India, and other countries in the Middle East.
I’m not sure about the geographical origin of the recipe below. It could probably be Iraq, Syria, or any of the neighboring countries. Like many other lentil soups, this soup is thick, hearty and so delicious, and is sure to satisfy any soup lover, like me.
2 cups red lentils
8 cups water
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chicken soup flavor powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional)
Salt and black pepper
In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, and the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid, skim the foam on top, and cook for 20 minutes on medium-low heat, uncovered.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan, and sauté the onion until golden. Add the garlic, and sauté for an extra minute. Carefully, transfer to the saucepan with the cooked lentils.
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and spices and cook for 20 more minutes.
Serve with good country style bread.