It’s taken me ages to make a Greek lentil soup that I really like. The ones I’ve made in the past were okay, but nothing special.
Most recipes for Greek lentil soup that I’ve tried use too many lentils in proportion to liquid ingredients for my taste. A lot use vinegar, which I’ve decided I don’t like in soup (at least, not in this soup). Most use carrots and/or celery, both of which I omitted.
I got the idea of using sweet red pepper and smoked paprika in the soup from Peter Minakis’ blog, Kalofagas – Greek Food & Beyond. Peter also adds raw garlic at the end, which is a brilliant suggestion. I didn’t add carrot or oregano, and used fresh tomatoes instead of passata (tomato sauce). I also sauteed the veggies in olive oil first, instead of just cooking everything together. Since I don’t have a pressure cooker, I made the soup on the stovetop, which worked fine. Other changes I made were using more water in proportion to lentils, and adding a few tablespoons of red lentils, which break down to make the soup nice & thick.
To grate the tomatoes, simply cut them in half and use a large-hole grater, leaving the skins behind.
The soup wasn’t just good, it was excellent, and is one I will make again and again.
The traditional way to serve this soup is with bread, olives & pickled vegetables. We instead served it with bread, Greek potatoes and Greek salad.
GREEK LENTIL SOUP
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small diced onion (60g)
- 1/4 medium diced sweet red pepper (40g)
- 2 cloves garlic, divided
- 3 cups water (750ml)
- 1/2 cup brown lentils (90g)
- 3 tablespoons red lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 bay leaf
- 1/2 pound fresh tomatoes, grated (225g)
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a heavy skillet (I use cast iron) over low heat, saute onion and red pepper in olive oil until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add one clove of garlic and saute an additional minute or two.
While the veggies are sauteeing, bring water to the boil.
When water is boiling, add sauteed veggies, continental (brown) lentils, red lentils, salt, smoked paprika and bay leaf.
Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
Add fresh tomatoes, and cook another 10 minutes.
Stir in remaining clove of raw garlic and freshly ground pepper to taste, and serve.