Arts & Culture

Lentil Soup for the Soul: An Egyptian Comfort Food

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Lentil Soup for the Soul: An Egyptian Comfort Food

Photo: dinnerwithjulie.com

In western cultures, chicken soup is the example typically given to portray dishes that provide warmth and comfort.

In Egypt, that food is lentil soup. Egyptian cuisine is centered on affordable, filling, and nutritious food, and lentil soup is the perfect epitome of all three elements.

Lentils are said to originate from the Middle East and are believed to be the first legume to ever be cultivated. Their earliest archaeological dating goes back to Greece, Syria, Palestine, and Turkey.

They’ve been consumed by different cultures for centuries and are even mentioned in both the Quran and the Bible.

Lentils are popular on a global scale, and for good reason. They are not only affordable; they also cook very quickly and do not need to be soaked before cooking, unlike other legumes. Because they produce a rich broth, they’re a popular ingredient for soups and hearty dishes.

Different countries consume lentil soup and have made it their own, with Sudan adding tomato paste, Turkey adding bulgur and mint, and Germany maximizing the protein content with sausages.

The Egyptian version may seem minimalistic in terms of ingredients, but it provides a rich, hearty flavor perfect for cold winter evenings. For maximum authenticity, top with toasted chunks of baladi bread or use baladi bread for dipping.

Lentil soup recipe by Amira’s Pantry:

Photo: frommybowl.com

Ingredients:
1 cup red lentils, rinsed.
1 celery stalk, diced.
1 Roma tomato, quartered.
1 medium onion, quartered.
1 large carrot, diced.
1.5 liters boiling water/stock, divided.
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste).
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
0.5 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Instructions:
1. In a deep pot, mix in lentils and all the vegetables.
2. Add one liter of water or stock, then bring to a boil over medium high heat.
3. Partially cover the pot and reduce heat to medium.
4. Cook for 20 minutes or until everything in the pot is cooked.
5. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend to your preferred consistency. If the soup is too thick, add more water/stock until desired consistency is achieved.
6. Add spices and mix well. Taste to adjust seasonings.

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A writer and editor based in Cairo, Mona is passionate about providing people with a platform to share their stories. Her interests include cultural issues, mental health, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism from the American University in Cairo.

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