Total Request (not-so) Live: Middle Eastern Lentil Soup Recipe

When I was in high school, I used to love coming home on Friday afternoons and watching Total Request Live on MTV.  (Hey, it was the late 90’s.  TRL was awesome.)  I’d drive home, deposit my massive backpack in my room, beeline for the couch, and just…veg.  After a week of sports practice after school, hours of homework, and getting up at 5:30 each morning, my Friday afternoon chill fests felt amazing.

I’m no TRL host, but I do take requests: after my What I Ate Wednesday post, Jessie from Jessie Loves to Run and Madison from Eating 4 Balance both requested that I post the recipe for my Middle Eastern Lentil Soup.  After doing a happy dance (“People are reading my blog!  And they think the soup looks good!  Yaaaaay!”), I’m more than happy to oblige their request!

So, think of this as Total Request (not-so) Live, in the sense that it’s totally not live, and I’m totally not Carson Daly (thank God) — but if you request it, I’ll gladly post it!

I came up with this recipe after finally, finally figuring out the spice mix that makes many Middle Eastern dishes taste so amazing.  I was living in Israel for almost a year before I finally cracked the code: it’s a mix of equal parts cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, and coriander.  Once I had that down, I started adding it to everything — and when combined with garlic and ginger, it’s even better.

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

1 cup dry green lentils
1 cup dry brown rice
1 onion, diced into small pieces
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 bunch of kale, washed, de-stemmed (I totally just made that verb up – I’m pretty sure it’s not a real word, but oh well) and sliced into 1″ thin strips
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, baked with salt and pepper, then shredded and sprinkled with cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander to taste

Step 1: In a stock pot, warm up the 2 tbsp olive oil.  Saute the onions until they become translucent.  Add garlic and ginger, saute until the garlic begins to brown.

Step 2: Add the lentils and rice, stir until coated in the sauteed onions, garlic, and ginger.

Step 3: Cover with 4 cups of vegetable broth or stock, as well as the cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin mix.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and let it cook for 30-40 minutes or until the rice and lentils are soft.

Step 4:  Once the rice and lentils are tender, stir in the kale strips — they’ll cook quickly and can get mushy and sad looking if they simmer too long, so it’s best to add them at the very end of the process.  Stir them in until they become a vibrant shade of green (that’s when they’ve reached their happy place). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5: Remove from heat and serve!

Optional: Top with shredded chicken or nutritional yeast.

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