Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tim's Lovingly-Crafted Mediterranean Red Lentil Soup

Recipe from Tim Hellner
Husband-Tested in Alice's Kitchen

Our book group gets together once a month to discuss books of our choosing, catch up on what's going on in our lives and eat something delicious. The book group has been together over twenty years. We take turns hosting our fellow book lovers and when we do, the food is always stupendous. Tim made this soup for us on one of these occasions and we all begged for the recipe. Tim makes it all year round, and he finds it to be wholesome and soothing. He says its inspiration is Hashim Alsabi's soup featured at the restaurant, Pita Delites, in Louisville, Kentucky. Tim liked Hashim's soup so much that he had to come up with his own version. Tim's wife, Karen, says that this is one dish that is wife-tested. So, now that the temperature is becoming cold enough to stoke the wood stove, it's time to make a soup that will warm you up and Tim's soup will certainly do that. It's a cinch to make and tastes even better the next day. I buy the red lentils in the bulk section at Lost River Market & Deli. As the soup cooks, the lentils become a toasty yellow color. How about making this for Meatless Monday?

Soup Ingredients:
1 medium potato, diced
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced fine (I already had a minced onion left over from another recipe and so used it.)
5 to 6 cups water
2 1/2 teaspoons Better 'n Bouillon Vegetable (This comes in a jar. It's a very, very thick liquid that is measured out into hot water to make a vegetable broth. If you don't have this, you can substitute vegetable broth for the water/Better 'n Bouillon Vegetable combination.)
1 cup split red lentils
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch saffron (optional)

Freshly ground pepper (optional)
a sprinkle of paprika or ground sumac
fresh lemon juice

Place the potato in a saucepan of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potato is tender. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and saute until they become soft and transluent.

Add 5 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Add 2 1/2 teaspoons of Better 'n Bouillon and stir. (You can also substitute 5 cups of vegetable broth for the water/Better 'n Bouillon combination.)

Add the lentils, cumin, and saffron, if using. Bring to a boil. Drain off the water from the potato and add the potato to the soup. Turn down the heat so that the soup simmers. Simmer until the lentils break up and turn yellow in color.
Adjust the spices to taste.

(This is optional, but I used an immersion blender to blend the soup a bit to make the texture more creamy.)

Serve in bowls, sprinkling each bowl of soup with a bit of fresh lemon juice, freshly ground pepper and/or ground sumac or paprika.

*Tim suggests serving this soup with flat-bread, especially freshly-baked whole wheat pita, plain or stuffed with Tabouli or Greek Salad. Tim says that stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) go very nicely served along slide this soup.

1 comment:

Joey said...

Hi Alice,

I am a vegetarian, and I am always looking for new ways to cook with lentils. This Red Lentil Soup looks so tasty! Did you know that cutting back meat by just 15% (or once every seven days) is a great way to live a healthier life? Just 15% is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. I work with a nonprofit public health campaign, called Meatless Monday. If you’re looking for more tasty meatless recipes, their website ( is a great source, with plenty of information on health and nutrition, including alternative sources of protein!
Your meatless recipes look wonderful, and if you’re interested in writing a weekly Meatless Monday post profiling a meatless recipe or benefit of going meatless, please email me back at so we can better coordinate outreach.

Thanks so much,