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While the soup can be made with brown lentils, it is best with meaty, firm-textured French green lentils du Puy. If you can find Aleppo pepper, which is available at Barbur World Foods or Penzey's Spices, substitute it for the paprika. Pomegranate molasses (which is also at Barbur World Foods) is intensely sour, so add according to your palate. Feel free to pick and choose from the garnishes listed below. For a richer version of the stew, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup Greek yogurt to the blender along with the lentils.

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  • Optional garnishes:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion (red or yellow), minced
  • 2 medium-large carrots, diced
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 to 7 cups vegetable broth or water (divided)
  • 1/2 cup minced Italian flat-leaf parsley, cilantro or combination of the two
  • Lemon wedges
  • Labneh (Greek yogurt)
  • Toasted walnuts
  • Chapons (recipe follows)
  • Pickled onions
  • Toasted pita bread
  • Diced tomato
  • Roasted red peppers or green chiles
  • Chopped braised kale, chard or spinach


Servings 4
Adapted from


Step 1

Combine oil, onion, carrots, cumin, caraway seeds and a large pinch salt in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dramatically reduced in volume, 15 to 20 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and paprika; cook until very fragrant and paprika has darkened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in pomegranate molasses, brown sugar, sumac, lentils and bay leaf; scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of pot, add 6 cups broth (or water), and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until lentils are tender, about 1-1/2 hours (the soup may also be cooked in a 250-degree oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours). If the liquid runs too low before the lentils are cooked, add more broth or water.
Remove bay leaf. Transfer 1 cup lentils and remaining 1 cup broth to a blender or food processor and blend smooth (pulse blender to prevent mixture from forcing upward); return to pot. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pomegranate molasses and brown sugar. Stir in herbs and serve accompanied by a few garnishes.


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