I’m a very big fan of this Moroccan Lentil Soup. It’s got so much to love – it’s thick and creamy, hearty, healthy and colorful, and it’s flavored by the beautiful, warm, fragrant spices that characterize Moroccan cuisine.
I discovered this soup a couple of weeks ago when I attended a cooking class on “Mediterranean Street Food” at Sofra Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge. My cooking teacher that night – Cara Chigazola – is the Chef de Cuisine at one of my all-time favorite restaurants – Oleana – also in Cambridge. I was thrilled that Cara gave me the recipe and permission to share it here on Panning The Globe!
It was fun to hear Cara speak about her travels and her love of street food. She told us about a trip she took to Morocco and how she discovered this amazing soup and had to recreate it when she returned home. I know exactly how she felt! After I tasted her version I wanted to make it immediately when I got home! So did my friend Meryl, who took the class with me.
It’s a fairly quick and simple recipe to make – you start by sautéing a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onions – along with a good amount of minced ginger and garlic.
Next you add the ground spices, stirring them around for a few minutes, until they’re toasted. At this point you’ll be inhaling the beautiful aromatic flavors of this dish and you might close your eyes and take several deep sniffs and start sighing, as I did.
Lastly, the tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, and herbs are added. Then all you have to do is let it simmer for about a half hour….
You end up with a soup that’s hearty enough for a main course. Cara suggests garnishing the bowl with a wedge of lemon to squeeze in, and a date. You can either chop the date, or just put it in the middle of the bowl and scoop up sweet bits of it with each spoonful of soup.
If you live in the Boston area, cooking classes at Sofra are a very special treat that I highly recommend. Imagine stepping into a warm Middle Eastern cafe at 6:30 in the evening. You pour yourself a cup of tea and get comfy on one of the kilim-covered benches. As you watch the chef prepare the food, and as the intoxicating aromas float your way, you start seriously craving the scrumptious dishes that are being created. Your wish is answered with a delicious serving of each dish, along with the perfect wine pairing. By the end of the night, you’re stuffed and happy, and armed with a bunch of great new recipes to make at home (as well as some other irresistible items from Sofra, such as pomegranate molasses and earthquake cookies, if you’re me.)
Here’s the link for information about Sofra Bakery, Menu, Catering and Cooking classes.
Here’s the link for Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge
If you’d like to hear more from Chef Cara and get more of her great recipes, here’s the link to her Blog: The Lazy Canner
And here’s your recipe for this wonderful Moroccan Lentil Soup:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- ⅓ cup chopped parsley, leaves and tender stems
- ½ cup chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
- 2½ tablespoons minced garlic (about 5 large garlic cloves)
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger (about a 2-inch by 3-inch piece)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or substitute freshly ground black pepper)
- 1¼ cups dry red lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained (or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas)
- 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes and their juice, pureed with an immersion blender or squeezed by hand until they're broken down. (I recommend San Marzano or organic)
- 7-8 cups low salt chicken broth or vegetable broth (I recommend Swanson's)
- Coarse salt
- Optional Garnish:
- Dates (1 per person)
- Lemon wedges (1 per person)
- In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and ginger over medium-low heat until they soften, 5-7 minutes. (Don't let them brown) Add the spices: turmeric, cinnamon, paprika and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, to toast the spices. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth (start with 7 cups and add more later, if you want a thinner soup). Bring to a simmer. Add the lentils, chickpeas, cilantro and parsley. Simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, until the lentils break down and the soup becomes thick and creamy, adding more broth if you want a thinner soup.
- Season, to taste, with salt. Serve with lemon wedges and dates.