Shorbat Adas / Lentil Soup (video)
Winters in Damascus are cold and can sometimes be brutally cold, especially when the city can go hours on a daily basis without electricity. Lentil soup is a Damascene winter comfort food because our bodies spend more energy breaking down the complex carbs of the lentils releasing which warms the body. It takes me back to my family home in Damascus where we would be huddling around the gas heater to be snug and warm. On those cold days, lentil soup was the perfect solution, being a hearty, healthy and filling soup. With Ramadan around the corner, let me seize the opportunity to share with you the importance of this soup at the table almost everyday during Ramadan.
For those who are not familiar with Ramadan, it is the holy month of fasting for Muslims where they would fast from dawn to dusk with no food and no water passing the lips. The Holy Month of Ramadan is a month of worship reflection and rekindling of family and friends’ ties. It is the month of learning patience, sympathy and empathy, and the month of generosity, sharing and giving. Traditionally, observing Muslims end their fast with eating a few dates and drinking a glass of water or milk then a prayer followed by a wholesome spread of food. With lentil soup being a stable dish in Ramadan, I can never forget the smell of lentil soup in the air throughout our neighbourhood as it come closer to dusk. This soup pairs beautifully with vegan or meat kibbeh.
Lentil is a healthy option at the table because it has Low glycaemic index GI which means it helps maintain and steady blood sugar level, and it is rich in fibre, therefore, helps lower cholesterol, not to mention that it helps the digestive system by preventing constipation. It is high in protein, folate, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium, B1 and B6. The saying “small but mighty” surely applies to this holy tiny grain.
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups split orange lentil
1/2 cup rice, uncooked
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons osfur (safflower)*, or 2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 vegetable bouillon
1 1/2 liters water
Salt, to taste
* Safflower or “osfur” is Carthamus tinctorius which releases a yellow tint
1. In a pan heat the olive oil and fry the onions until golden then add the chopped carrots and sauté for a minute.
2. Add the lentils, rice, spices, bouillon and water.
3. Cook under medium heat for around 20 minutes or until the lentils and rice are soft. Adjust the salt. You have the option to eat it chunky or pureed and silky.
4. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.
Eat this soup with a squeeze of lemon juice at it helps the body absorb 6 times more iron from the lentils.
Lentil soup can be prepared with chicken or minced meat, simply add 250gm of chicken, cooked and shredded or 250 g. minced meat, browned
You can add any dark green leafy vegetables for extra health benefits.
Adding pureed grilled red bell peppers gives the dish another dimension of flavour.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 301 Calories; 6g Fat (17.3% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 48g Carbohydrate; 16g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 290mg Sodium.