Middle Eastern Delight: Lentil and Split Pea Soup

Lentil soup should be in every cook’s repertoire. What’s more comforting than a steaming hot bowl of this fragrant hearty soup? It also doesn’t cost much to make and is good for you! Lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. They are full of both protein and fibre and are said to help lower cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar,and improve heart and digestive health. Lentil soup is one of my Middle Eastern favourites! I used chicken broth, but this can be vegan friendly by using vegetable broth instead. 🙂

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If you’re from Toronto and you like Middle Eastern food, you must have heard of Jerusalem Restaurant. Established in 1971, it was the first Middle Eastern restaurant established in the city and is said to be one of the best. I remember going there as a child with my family. I love their lentil soup, and when I came across the Jerusalem recipe in the paper I figured it was about time I made this soup for myself. (Why have only a bowl, when I can have a whole POT?) I used the recipe as a guideline, but changed a few things here and there. For starters, I decided to add split peas. I also love split pea soup, so I figured combining both would be twice as good. I also chose to do it in the slow cooker, but you can totally make this in a pot on the stove if you don’t have a slow cooker.

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Middle Eastern Lentil & Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup green lentils
  • 3/4 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I made my own stock from scratch. You can substitute with chicken bouillon powder or store bought broth.) *Vegan option: use vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used fresh lemons)

First, saute the chopped onions and garlic in a pan with the olive oil, until lightly browned.

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Rinse the lentils, split peas, and rice under cold running water in a sieve.

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Put the sauteed onions, along with the rinsed lentils, rice, and split peas into the slow cooker (or pot) and cover with 8 cups of chicken broth.

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I set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low. (If you’re going to try it in a pot on the stove, you could probably bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour or so.) You want to cook until the rice, lentils, and split peas start to kind of dissolve. The soup becomes more mushy and creamy. If its not as creamy as you want it, let it cook for longer and break apart a bit more. (You can always add a bit more broth if it becomes too thick.)

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I waited to add the rest of the ingredients near the end (at around 7 hours). Add the salt, pepper, ground cumin, and chopped parsley. You can add more or less of things. Taste it and adjust to your liking! Let the soup continue cooking for the remaining time set on the cooker. I find the longer you cook it, the better it is. An extra hour doesn’t hurt. (If you’re making this on the stove, I’d say stir in the remaining ingredients and let it simmer for another 5 or 10 minutes.)

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Mix the lemon juice in just before you serve. Always serve with lemon wedges! The yummiest thing about lentil soup in squeezing in the extra lemon juice. I love how the tartness of the lemon tastes with the flavour of the soup. So delicious!

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Enjoy! xx

3 thoughts on “Middle Eastern Delight: Lentil and Split Pea Soup

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