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hazardnc

Lentil and Spinach Soup

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Thanks to all who contributed to this thread. Made the soup for the first time ever on Monday and am sure there are many more batches in my future. Earthy but lemon bright, filling but not heavy, good hot, good cold and best two days later. A bowl and a half with a couple of slices of country bread followed by a cup of yogurt drizzled with honey and a handful of Iranian dates made a fully satisfying and healthy meal.

I mainly followed zeitoun's recipe with a few changes inspired by a similar recipe (Shorbet Adds bil Hamud) in Claudia Roden's The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

Sauté 1 medium onion, chopped, in 2 tablespoons olive oil until it begins to brown. Add 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, and stir for 2–3 minutes. Add 2 cups green lentils, picked over and rinsed, and 10 cups stock or water (I used half canned chicken stock and half water). Bring to a boil and add the chopped stalks from 1 large bunch of swiss chard. Partly cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 3 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes, and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the chard leaves, cut into ribbons. Simmer 10–15 minutes or until tender. Thin with water, if necessary, and season to taste with salt.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 medium onion, finely chopped, in a skillet over medium low heat. When the onion turns translucent, add 4–5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped, and 1/3–1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped. Raise heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to colour. Remove from heat, cool a few minutes, and stir in the juice of 2 large lemons. Add to the soup just before serving.

Roden, whose book I respect but don't love, suggests using brown lentils, not green. She starts by sautéing onion and garlic (as I did above, though she uses more) and adds the cilantro along with the spinach/chard leaves. Her sauce, which she calls takleya, omits onions and is made by frying 8–10 crushed garlic cloves in 4 tablespoons olive oil with 4 tablespoons ground coriander. (I've adjusted the quantities to fit my recipe.) Any comments on the authenticity of this approach?


Edited by carswell (log)

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I would say this recipe is in line with what I do. I also do not include onions in the takleya, only oil, garlic and cilantro.

edit: I also never add potatoes, but that is a matter of preference.

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Roden, whose book I respect but don't love, suggests using brown lentils, not green. She starts by sautéing onion and garlic (as I did above, though she uses more) and adds the cilantro along with the spinach/chard leaves. Her sauce, which she calls takleya, omits onions and is made by frying 8–10 crushed garlic cloves in 4 tablespoons olive oil with 4 tablespoons ground coriander. (I've adjusted the quantities to fit my recipe.) Any comments on the authenticity of this approach?

It's sounds authentic to me.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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The thing that struck me as odd was the frying of ground spices (and coriander at that) at the start of cooking, a technique I associate above all with Indian cuisine. Also, no one on this board or in the other recipes for this soup that I've seen has suggested using anything other than fresh coriander. Hence my curiosity.

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The thing that struck me as odd was the frying of ground spices (and coriander at that) at the start of cooking, a technique I associate above all with Indian cuisine. Also, no one on this board or in the other recipes for this soup that I've seen has suggested using anything other than fresh coriander. Hence my curiosity.

I see what you mean. It would be very un-Algerian to toast or roast spices before use. I think this is true of other countries in our forum. But to add spices to oil with garlic or other aromatics would certainly be done. I think that cumin would be more common.

Maybe the Moroccans toast/roast spices. They do weird stuff like that. :biggrin:


Edited by chefzadi (log)

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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This is the truth: Roden's first book was published in 1972. At that time, very few editors understood the difference between fresh and dried coriander.

I know Rodin did, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn her editor just changed fresh to ground during the copyediting stage.

Magazines at that time were doing the same thing.

I was lucky and had Fran McCullough as my editor. She had just finished editing Diana Kennedy's first book. Diana's commitment to the truth helped lead the way.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I didn't notice the dried part. Oops on me. But adding spices to aromatics cooking in oil would be "authentic".


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I had to pull out the cookbook my mother-in-law made for each of her children (a great idea by the way) to reiew her recipe for this soup. Hers is very humble - a "poor man's dish" for sure. She does use spinach versus kale, but I imagine this was because she altered the recipe to suit her taste or her husband's.

Her ingredients:

Brown lentils, water (or broth if you prefer) onions, lemon, spinach.

She claims in her notes it is what she craves when she is sick. To that end, I would always add some garlic!

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This is the truth: Roden's first book was published in 1972. At that time, very few editors understood the difference between fresh and dried coriander.

I know Rodin did, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn her editor just changed fresh to ground during the copyediting stage.

OK. But this is The New Book of Middle Eastern Food, i.e. the 2000 revised edition of A Book of Middle Eastern Food. And the recipe does call for fresh coriander; it just goes into the soup at the same time as the spinach. So, the ground coriander seed would appear to be intentional or an oversight. Are you aware of any other Middle Eastern dishes in which it's used this way? Will have to give it a try the next time I make the soup.

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So, the ground coriander seed would appear to be intentional or an oversight. Are you aware of any other Middle Eastern dishes in which it's used this way?

I'm not certain about other dishes which use coriander in this way, but I do know that ground coriander seed is common in Egyptian cuisine. If I'm not mistaken, caraway and cumin are also very common in Egypt. Roden grew up in Cairo, so it would make sense that she's putting an Egyptian twist on the recipe though she doesn't call out the region in which this is "authentic."

rien


Edited by Rien (log)

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