This version of Turkey's classic lentil soup is home cooking at its best: simple, flavorful and nutritious. Make it a complete meal by adding a tangy salad and your favorite flatbread or a crusty loaf of whole-grain bread. Like most soups, this one is even better the day after it's made. Thin it with extra water if it thickens overnight.
Adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
• 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, ¼ inch dice
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
• Pinch hot red pepper flakes
• 1¾ cups split red lentils
• Bunch of celery leaves, chopped
• 1 carrot, finely chopped
• 2 quarts chicken stock
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Juice of ½ -1 lemon
• 1 ½ -2 large onions, sliced thin
• 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1- ½ pita breads to make croutons
• 3 lemons, quartered, to serve
Sweat the onion in a heavy stockpot over medium heat until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes and stir. Add the lentils, celery leaves and carrot, cover with stock, and simmer, uncovered for 30-45 minutes until the lentils have disintegrated and the soup has a creamy texture.
Add water if the soup needs thinning. It should thin, like a light cream. Stir in the juice of half the lemon. Taste, and add salt, black pepper and lemon if needed.
For the garnish, fry the onions in the oil, first covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, then uncovered, over medium and high heat, stirring often, until crisp and very brown, almost caramelized.
Serve the soup very hot. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of fried onions and pass the lemon wedges and baked small pita pieces as croutons.