When food is this healthy, you half expect it to taste bad, yet the traditional Greek lentil soup is a classic not just for its health benefits; it’s also delicious and comforting.
There are many versions of the recipe; some are lemony, some are spicy, and some incorporate mushrooms, carrots, potatoes or sausage, but the most important ingredients are lentils, onion, garlic and bay leaves. It’s delicious served with a chunk of feta cheese, but dietitians recommend going the more traditional route and enjoy it with vinegar, as the calcium in the feta inhibits your body from absorbing the iron in the lentils.
The recipe below is for the purist.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat, and sauté your onions with the chili flakes for 4-5 minutes.
Add the lentils and the water (or stock) and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature, add the bay leaves and garlic, and let your lentils simmer for 30-45 minutes, until they are soft.
If adding tomato puree, add it half way through the cooking time. If using fresh tomato, add it about 10 minutes before removing the soup from the heat.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, and serve with some nice, crusty bread, wine, and, if you like, a country-style sausage.
Tip 1: Many recipes call for bringing the lentils to a boil and then changing discarding the water. Don’t. It’s a myth that this would make the soup “lighter,” and you will lose a lot of the flavor and fragrance.
Tip 2: You can use a nice broth to cook your lentils, but if you have tasty quality lentils, water is preferable.
This recipe was adapted from recipes and information from gastronomos.gr.
2 onions, finely chopped
250-300 g dried lentils, any size
1 l water, or homemade chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves of garlic, quartered
2 tbsp. tomato puree or 1 finely chopped tomato, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for sautéing and serving
vinegar, for serving