This is particularly popular in Lebanon and very healthy. It doubles as a main meal if you add chicken or lamb. It’s so easy to make and you’ll find local variations on the ingredients depending on where you go. The main one, dried lentils, can be either red or green – it really doesn’t matter – and it’s a bonus that they don’t need to be soaked first, so this can be rustled up in about half an hour.
100ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
250g green or red lentils
1.5-2 litres hot water
1 medium potato, chopped
1 bunch of Swiss chard (about 100g), chopped
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
6 garlic cloves, crushed
large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1. Heat half the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Stir in the lentils and ensure that they are coated in the onion oil, then cook for 1 minute.
2. Pour in the hot water, cover the pan with a lid and bring to the boil.
3. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until the lentils are partly cooked. Add the potato, chard and seasoning, cover again and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are completely cooked.
4. Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and stir in the garlic. Fry until just golden – it won’t take long, so watch it carefully – then add the coriander. Stir this mixture immediately into the soup and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
5. Pour in the lemon juice and simmer for a further minute. Serve straight away or, if you prefer, blitz until smooth.
GET 20 PER CENT OFF TONY’S BOOK
Recipe from Feasts from the Middle East by Tony Kitous, founder of Comptoir Libanais restaurants and delis, to be published on 8 March by HQ, price £20. Tony grew up in Algeria, with a love of home cooking and the food culture of his homeland. In the book he shares the flavour-packed, affordable dishes he loves the most (many inspired by his mum Zohra and by family memories), ranging from easy morning meals to grand dinners with friends. To order a copy for £16 until 11 March, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.