Shurba al- 'Adas
Region: Arab Levant
Difficulty: Easy but long cooking time
This very popular soup in Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt has a long history, as we know from the story of Esau in the Bible when he renounced his birthright for a pottage of lentils (Genesis 25: 29-34). This recipe is from my former wife, Najwa al-Qattan. I published the recipe originally in my book A Mediterranean Feast (William Morrow, 1999) and in 2006 it was chosen by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevenís for their edited collection called The 150 Best American recipes: Indispensable Dishes from Legendary Chefs and Undiscovered Cooks (Houghton Mifflin, 2006).
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation Time: 1:20 hours
1. Wash the lentils under cold running water picking out any stones. Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan and add the lentils and onion. When the broth returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Do not stir.
2. Pass the lentils and broth through a food mill. Add the cumin and season with salt and pepper. Return the soup to the saucepan and stir. Taste to check the seasoning. Stir in the lemon juice and heat until the soup starts to bubble slightly. Taste again to check the seasoning and add whatever it needs.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil for frying to 375 degrees F in a medium-size saucepan or skillet. Fry the pieces of bread until golden, about 1 minute. Serve the soup with the fried croutons of Arabic bread and extra virgin olive oil passed at the table.