There's a little middle eastern restaurant near our house that has the finest and most fragrant lentil soup. My kids just adore it and so does my husband. This afternoon, as I was pondering what to make for supper, I decided to give lentil soup a try. The recipe that I used, torn from the Detroit Free Press, had been stuck on our refrigerator door with a magnet several months ago. I've probably glanced at that tattered piece of newsprint about a thousand times. Finally, who knows why, the spirit moved me to buy some orange lentils and cook up a big pot of the stuff. I'm pleased to report that the recipe is a keeper. It got a giant seal of approval from my guys. When my husband commented that he thought it tasted better than the restaurant's formula, I knew I'd be making it again.
The only liberties I took with this extremely simple recipe were to increase it, to be more generous with the spices (more cumin, salt, and black pepper), and to include a few squeezes of lemon juice. I also used an immersion blender instead of putting the soup into a regular blender (way, way easier--if you don't have one and you like to make soup, you need one!).
Of course, a soup like this, tasty though it is, does not an entire meal make. Okay then, what to serve with it? Well, I thought some savory biscuits might be just the ticket, and indeed they were. I used a recipe for a reliably fluffy, tender, buttermilk biscuit from the book Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America, but instead of leaving the biscuits plain I decided to add in some finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley along with a little fresh minced garlic. Perfect!
These were good biscuits, and they went along with the lentil soup like love and marriage. I placed a bowl of seedless red grapes on the table, alongside the biscuit basket, and we were good to go.
You'll like this combo!
(For a printable version of this recipe, along with the biscuit recipe below, click here!)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 x-large clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, coarsley chopped
3 cups orange lentils, rinsed
9 cups water or vegetable broth (I used water)
3 and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice to taste
In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the garlic for 1 minute, then add in the chopped onion and and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to coat them in the oil. Add in the water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and cook, removing any foam that rises to the top, until the lentils are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes (mine took barely 30 minutes). Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Once slightly cooled, puree the soup until almost smooth using an immersion blender (if you have just a regular blender, use that, pouring the unpureed soup into it in batches, then pouring the pureed soup into its own separate pot). Add in the cumin, salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Bring the soup to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until ready to serve.
If you like, top each bowl of soup with a hefty pinch of chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon on the side.
Buttermilk Biscuits with Fresh Parsley & Garlic
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3 cups of All Purpose flour, plus extra for dusting (I used bleached)
2 and 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 medium garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk, plus more for brushing
Blend together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl, mix together the parsley and garlic, then add that into the combined dry ingredients. Cut in the butter (I used a pastry blender) until the mixture resembles pea-sized pieces.
Add in the buttermilk and milk, mixing just to combine.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1 inch. Fold the rolled dough in half, turn it, roll it, and repeat this 3 or 4 times for a final thickness of 1 inch.
Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter. (Reroll the extra dough scraps only once if you can help it; more than that may lead to toughened biscuits.)
Place the dough pieces onto the covered baking sheet. With a pastry brush, lightly brush milk on the top of each one.
Bake for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Let the biscuits cool on wire racks, or serve them warm.
Recipe full disclosure! This soup recipe came from the food section of the Detroit Free Press. I believe it was published in 2009, but I have no idea which month or day. I could not find the exact recipe on their website in order to confirm the date. At the bottom of the recipe that I have it says, "Adapted from Lila Amen, Dearborn. Tested by Susan M. Selaskey for the Free Press Test Kitchen."
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