I am and always have been a huge lover of lentil soup, or in Arabic, shorbat adas. It's my go-to "healthy meal option" when I'm trying to take a break from overindulging. Shorbat adas also reminds me of my childhood (with the Lebanese version) of lemony lentil soup with swiss chard. Maybe, you could say lentil soup is the Middle Eastern equivalent for chicken noodle soup.
This Egyptian red lentil soup recipe is given to me by Mama Mattaya (my Egyptian mother-in-law) and has been perfected over a generation. Mama Mattaya doesn't play around in the kitchen- she is known for her food.
After I gave birth to my daughter, Amina, Mama Mattaya made me this soup (amongst a million other things). She made a huge batch and put it in portion size freezer bags in the freezer, so I had an easy meal option for when she traveled.
And if you are anything like me, easy meal options are the best. Sometimes I just don't have the bandwidth to figure out what's for dinner. And then add a little bit more stress in trying to find something healthy and easy that the whole family loves.
- Lentils: The base of this soup uses dry red or yellow lentils. I do not recommend adding any other type of lentil or bean.
- Vegetables: This shorbat adas recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and white potato. I recommend following the quantities of this recipe exactly as it is written because the ratios have been perfected over a generation. Literally. If you want to be creative with the ratios, try modifying after you try the recipe as is.
- Stock: This lentil soup is made with water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. If I don't have stock on hand, I use a bouillon cube in substitution.
- Oil: I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil, however, you can use butter or avocado oil.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: You can squeeze some fresh lemon or mix in a tad bit of cream.
Tips and Variations
This recipe is really straight forward, so there's not too many ways to mess it up. However, if you have a pressure cooker or slow cooker, you can cook the soup a little bit differently.
- Pressure cooker: If using a pressure cooker, follow all of the steps just like you would for a stovetop pot. Once all of the ingredients are in the pot, cover and pressurize. Cook the lentil soup for 30 minutes.
- Slow cooker: If using a slow cooker, pan fry the onions and garlic with butter or oil. Transfer the cooked onions and garlic into the slow cooker pot. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
- Eat shorbat adas with some fresh bread for a light meal, or eat it as an appetizer.
- Other variations: You can fry some onions and add them to the top. Additionally, you can eat this soup with some rice. Or, if you want to add some protein, this soup can be eaten with some chicken. It's really very versatile.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are high in fiber and low in fat. The micronutrient ratio in lentils varies depending on the type, but they are packed with iron, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc.
Not only do lentils pack a ton of micronutrients, but they also contain a good amount of protein, making them an excellent option for vegetarians and vegans.
If you would like to read more about the types and health benefits of lentils, I've found this article helpful from Jessica Gavin, a culinary food scientist.
Do I Need to Soak Lentils Prior to Cooking?
Lentils do not require soaking prior to cooking like many other beans. This recipe does not require soaking, but it's recommended if there's time. I've tried this shorbat adas recipe with and without soaking the lentils, and there isn't a difference.
At a minimum, soak and wash the lentils for a few minutes to make sure they are clean. My mother used to sort through the lentils when I was a kid because sometimes a rock would slip through. I feel like the lentil packaging factories have gotten better because I never find rocks in my lentils. The world has become a better place because of this.
Try Some Other Famous Mama Mattaya Recipes
- Ful Medames From Scratch
- Mahshi Crumb (Egyptian Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)
- Baked Ta'ameya
- Molokhia with Roast Chicken