Lemony Lentil Soup

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:27 Written by Flax Wednesday, 24 November 2010 09:17

fennel seeds with dried lemon

While winter is seriously delayed in our neck of the woods, it will, G-d willing, soon arrive. In anticipation of that day, I prepared a lentil soup. While everyone know that you eat soup to warm up on a cold winter day, what we sometimes forget is the role spices play in keeping us healthy. While we might think of spices as a way to flavor dishes, they have much greater benefits than just taste.
Spices are part of nature’s medicine chest. What’s wonderful about using spices as medicine is, they taste good, are easy to use, can be found in abundance, and are relatively inexpensive. Additionally, spices and herbs are natural preservatives. This means that they kill and prevent harmful bacteria from forming in our food as well as in our bodies. Turmeric, perhaps the most important spice of all, has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities. It is also an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory. It also lowers cholesterol, dissolves gallstones and increases ligament flexibility. It is also known to prevent both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. So I say, “eat your turmeric every day, to keep the doctor far away.
Spices, in addition to their anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, can improve the digestive process. Some spices improve the digestion through warming the system and helping to eliminate toxins. These include, among many others, cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg. Some spices are cooling and are useful for someone who suffers from too much heat. One of these is mint, commonly used in the summer. Another food, also used as a condiment, is lemon. Not only is lemon cooling, it is also a disinfectant and helps to dissolve fats and oils.
Seeds, used as spices, also have the same effect, promoting digestion and absorption of nutrients while helping to eliminate toxins. Some examples of these include, dill, caraway and fennel.

In this recipe I use a variety of spices, influenced by Persian cooking. The soup calls for a dried lemon, a common ingredient in Persian food. The sourness of the lemon is balanced by the sweetness of the vegetables as well as the sweet spices in the allspice. The fennel seeds I threw in just for the fun of it.


olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/4 green cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, chopped
1 cup green lentils
3 liters water
1/2 bunch coriander or parsley
1 dried Persian lemon
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp allspice (contains cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and black pepper)
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion for 2 minutes and then sweat the remaining vegetables for 5 minutes. Add the spices and the water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes or more.

Serve hot.


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