I love winter! Dark nights warmed by the fire, frost in the morning and big cosy jumpers. The drop in temperature is the perfect excuse to make some warming soup. For me, whenever I need something comforting I make Shorbat Adas – lentil soup.
My father taught me how to make this.
Traditionally made in winter in the Middle East, when there were no green vegetables and meat was scarce, it is made of 3 simple ingredients – lentils, rice and onions. The quantities used of each are much debated but my father insists there should be more lentils than rice.
Growing up in Amman my father remembers as a child sitting around the fire in middle of the living room with his family each evening -the only source of heating when he was young. He used to fight with his brothers over who got to sit nearer to the fire and he would often burn his fingers or feet from sitting too close.
His mother would serve large bowls of piping hot shorbat with a squeeze of lemon and they would silently devour bowl after bowl not only to fill their bellies but to warm them through. Some months this would be all they ate.
Something my father relied on to survive is something I now look to for comfort. I think it’s the connection to him that I find comforting more than anything.
It doesn’t need jazzing up or modernising. I keep this very simple, although for my husband I serve some kofta (meatballs) on the side- he wouldn’t cope with the lack of meat!
It can be cooked for as little or as long as you want depending on how soft you want it and you can make it thicker or thinner by adjusting the amount of stock. I like it thick – so thick my father says it’s not really called shorbat but Mdardara.
- 1 onion- chopped
- 3 cloves garlic – crushed
- 1 cup red lentils – washed
- 3/4 cup rice
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1-2 chillis – diced
- 1-2 tablespoons cumin – to taste
- juice of 2 lemons
- salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley to garnish
- in a large saucepan fry the onions and garlic in some oil until brown
- add the lentils, rice, stock, cumin and chillis and bring to the boil
- simmer for 30-45mins – add more water if begins to dry
- stir through lemons and season
- serve with a sprig of parsley and a wedge of lemon