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Armenian Lentil Soup

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Armenian Lentil Soup

Time: Approximately 30 minutes of prep time and 3 hours of cook time.

Serves: 8-12

Inspired by: I’ve always enjoyed lentil soups and they can be so healthy. Many Armenian and Turkish versions of lentil soup include apricots. I love the concept of that, but often find they use too many and overpower the soup. After experimenting a bit, I like this version because it adds some depth and interest to the flavor without throwing it out of balance.

Supplies: Large soup pot

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 small onions or one large onion)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes chopped (or 1, 28 oz can organic fire roasted diced or crushed tomatoes)
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups lentils (any color)
  • 6 cups water to start (you may add another 3-6 cups while it’s cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (could use a curry powder instead or for part of this to change flavor a bit)
  • ½  teaspoon crushed ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Garnish – Finishing Touches:

  • Fresh parsley – chopped
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I typically add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice

Preparation:

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, apricots, water and spices.
  • Simmer for 3 hours, or until the lentils are completely soft. Add hot water as needed to keep the soup to your desired thickness.
  • Add additional salt & pepper if still needed.
  • When serving, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and garnish with paprika and parsley.

Note: You can of course skip the lime and the other garnishes, but I love lime juice drizzled on this lentil soup – I think it brings out a beautiful flavor.

Wine Suggestions: This soup has a spicy kick to it, but also a hint of sweetness. A medium bodied red with some nice fruitiness and/or a bit of spice on it would be perfect such as the 2006 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (45% Mourvedre, 28% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 5% Counoise) or a similar Southern Rhone blend. I’d probably also try a Rioja or a lighter-style Zinfandel (something like Hartford Court is nice). If you prefer white, the best match would be something off-dry such as a Kabinett Riesling. I had an inexpensive Riesling from Washington recently that was actually a very good pairing – Eroica from Chateau St. Michelle. What I enjoyed about this one is that it’s only slightly off dry. Eroica is the result of a winemaking collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau and famed Mosel winemaker Ernst Loosen.

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