While I was living in Kuwait, as an angsty teenage vegetarian, lentil soup was one of my staples – when I wasn’t stuffing my face with french fries. I still remember the restaurant in the Marina Mall food court, where I would eat it with copious amounts of lemon and deep-fried pita croutons. Most Middle Eastern restaurants in the country had a close variation of this soup. I have not been able to find even a remote approximation since moving to Canada. So, I looked around on Google and found a recipe that inspired my own (but mine went off on a tangent…) It’s now my favourite soup recipe by a wide margin. I recently found a recipe similar to mine, complete with gorgeous photos and method for making pita croutons, here.
(When I visited Doha in December, I made a quick beeline to a mall food court in search of the lentil soup of my childhood, and to my great surprise, I could barely recognize it. Flummoxed, I initially chalked it up to differences between Kuwait and Qatar, before realizing that the recipe I’ve been tweaking for the past 10 years had diverged from the original so much that it bore almost no resemblance to it at all. I’ve got so used to my version that I kinda prefer it now.)
So, without further ado:
2 cups red lentils
2 onions, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
Vegeta* (contains salt)
Amchur (dried mango powder) – optional
Turmeric (for colour)
Fry onions in olive oil until translucent. Add 1.5tbsp Vegeta and other spices to taste, then add lentils and a sufficient amount of water to cook them in. Check saltiness, taste and colour and adjust using Vegeta, spices and turmeric respectively. Puree using an immersion blender. Add lemon juice at the very end.
This recipe scales up and freezes very well. I recommend saving a few servings for exam-time.
*Vegeta is a type of vegetable seasoning salt originally from Croatia, but now available in most “ethnic” stores in Vancouver. Every single savoury dish I make has it as a base. I can’t imagine cooking without it, but you could use powdered or liquid vegetable stock as a substitute.