Lentil soup is an absolute must-have for your repertoire of winter dishes. It’s filling, extremely healthy, and about as inexpensive as you can get when it comes to soups. Not to mention it can easily be made vegan (just use vegetable broth or water in lieu of the chicken broth), and it’s already gluten and dairy-free (if you leave off the yogurt). No tree nuts in there either. You can pretty much avoid alienating just about anyone with this soup!
Everybody’s lentil soup is different — some are left chunky and some are pureed, and you can use whatever herbs and spices you please. I took a cue from Turkish recipes that use one of my favorite spices, sumac berries. Sumac is usually available ground into a coarse, reddish powder that adds a deliciously tart, lemony note to any dish. It’s the “je ne sais quoi” ingredient in many a Middle Eastern recipe, often sprinkled on hummus, salads, kebabs, and pilafs. You can buy it at a Middle Eastern grocery, or in the spice aisle of any well-stocked health food store.
With sumac and lemon juice to liven things up, this soup needs no added salt. You’ll be amazed at how flavorful it is, especially with a little extra sumac and a dollop of yogurt on top.
Lentil Soup with Sumac and Lemon
2 Tbsp. Garlic Gold oil
1/2 large white onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 C. red lentils
1 (14 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
4 C. low sodium chicken broth (I use Trader Joe’s)
2 tsp. ground sumac
juice of 1 large lemon
plain, nonfat yogurt (for garnish)
ground sumac (for garnish)
1. Heat the Garlic Gold oil in a 5-quart dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot over a medium flame. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and saute until the onions are translucent and softened but not browned, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the cumin, oregano, pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Saute for another two minutes.
3. Add the lentils, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring up to a simmer, turn heat down to low, then let simmer for 35 minutes, until lentils are softened and cooked through.
4. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf from the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup as smooth as you prefer. Stir in the sumac and lemon juice.
5. Ladle into bowls and serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of sumac to garnish.