Our family loves this yummy and delicious soup on a cold rainy Sunday afternoon and often during the holidays with family and friends. We first enjoyed it at Zov’s Bistro in Tustin, CA, a lovely Mediteranean restaurant in our area. Zov, the chef and owner was gracious to share her delicious recipe with all of us. It’s a family favorite!
Golden Lentil Soup
Yield: 12 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
1 pound dried red lentils, see cook’s notes
1/4 cup raw long-grain rice
12 cups water ( I use 1/2 water and 1/2 low sodium vegetable stock)
1 tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 teaspoons salt (I use just 1 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Garnish: fresh Italian parsley
Cook’s notes: Dried red lentils are sold at natural food stores, Middle Eastern markets and some supermarkets. When they cook, they turn yellow.
1. Heat oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, and onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are light caramel color, about 10 minutes. Add lentils, rice and water. Cover and bring to boil, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until lentils are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Stir in lemon pepper, seasoned salt, salt, pepper, and if using, cumin. Simmer uncovered until flavors blend, the lentils have fallen apart, and mixture thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste, if desired, with more salt and pepper. If desired, cool and store covered in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Soup becomes more flavorful if it is prepared a day in advance and refrigerated. Rewarm it over medium heat, adding more water to thin it to desired consistency.
Nutrition information (per serving): 150 calories, less than 5 percent of calories from fat, 2 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 29 g carbohydrates, 8 g protein, 220 mg sodium, 4 g fiber
Source: Zov Karamardian, chef-owner Zov’s Bistro and Bakery in Tustin, and Zov’s Cafes in Irvine and Newport Coast, “Zov: Recipes and Memories From the Heart”