I grew up disliking soup.
Ours was not a cooking home, and soup inevitably came out of a packet, to be mixed with boiling water and pretend to be food. I still recall (and recoil at) the bland sadness of the savory liquid with the occasional tiny bit of noodle or vegetable.
There was, however, one kind of soup, and one only, that my mother actually cooked from scratch. It was full of solid vegetable goodness so we usually had it as a meal, which it is really meant to be. It is a classic Lebanese home dish called Adass bi-Hamod, which translates as “lentils with lemon”, although potatoes and chard also feature prominently in it. We enjoyed it in winter particularly, but as it’s also good at room temperature. And it can be made in any season.
I never actually prepared this soup myself as long as I lived in Lebanon, due to the steady supply that was available. When I settled in London, I soon signed up with an organic box service, to receive seasonal vegetables on my doorstep straight from the farmers every week. Other than potatoes, I never really know what I’m going to get, and I cook accordingly. One day, I received chard… and I immediately knew what I had to make with it.
The recipe below is, to me, the archetypal adass bi-hamod of my childhood, but it is a flexible recipe. Some people, for instance, add sliced carrots to the rest of the ingredients in step 3, which adds a sweet note to the dish. Recently I tried replacing the potato with a diced celeriac, for a fantastic result. I may now try to replace the chard with broccoli, as I get more than I know what to do with this time of year. Essentially it is a good dish to use up one’s root vegetables in winter, if you cook with the season. It also freezes well.
Lentils & Lemon Soup (Adass bi-Hamod)
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: boil soup/stew gluten-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian nut-free dairy-free lemon lentils Lebanese fall winter
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch of chard, stems thickly sliced and leaves chopped
- 1 cup (200 gram) green lentils
- 1 potato, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed (separated)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- Handful fresh cilantro, leaves picked
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Salt, to taste
(1) In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onions. Cook till transparent.
(2) Add the chard stems (not the leaves) and sauté 1 minute.
(3) Add the lentils, potato, ground coriander, and one of the crushed garlic cloves. Add water to just cover, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer until the lentils are nearly cooked.
(4) Add the chard leaves and simmer a further 10 minutes.
(5) Take off the heat and stir in the second garlic clove, the cilantro leaves, the lemon juice and salt to taste.
(6) Serve hot or lukewarm.