If the sniffles and sneezes become part of one’s vocabulary, a hot bowl of soup is just what the doctor ordered…and a great prescription for a friend in need would be a dried soup mixture that they can whip up in a flash.
This recipe is based on a Turkish dish called Mercimek Corbasi, which is a delicious red lentil soup that is very popular in the Middle East. While very hearty and healthy, it’s the subtle combination of its spicy and bright flavors that really make this soup stand out. Of particular interest is the addition of the sumac spice, which is a type of edible berry that has a a lemony taste. Sumac is available in most Mediterranean stores and spice shops, but make sure it’s the true, Middle Eastern spice, as the garden variety found in North America is poisonous.
Also, have no fear if you can’t find some of these ingredients. For the dried mint, just open up a bag of herbal mint tea. If you need an alternative to sumac, simply add a teaspoon of dried lemon zest to the mixture. And if dried onions and carrots are hard to find, make your own from scratch by chopping up one medium-sized onion and carrot, and baking them in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan for 4 hours at 175 F / 80 C.
Turkish Lentil Soup
Yield: 2 cups (dry)
Active Time: 5 minute
Total Time: 5 minutes
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. sumac spice
1.5 tbsp. (0.5 oz/14 g.) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 c. (6 oz./170 g.) dried red lentils
1/2 c. (0.5 oz./14 g.) dried onions, minced
1/4 c. (0.5 oz./14 g.) dried carrots, minced
1) In a container of your choice, layer each of the ingredients. When ready to enjoy, combine the dried soup mixture with 4 cups of chicken* or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a slice of lemon.
* Chef’s Note: Want to know of a great way to determine a good quality, store-bought chicken stock? If the protein content is at least 10% (5 g. per cup) on the nutrition facts label, then you’ve probably found a winner. One of my favorite brands on the market is “Kitchen Basics” (which, for the record is a completely unsolicited recommendation…they just deserve an honorable mention because their chicken stock is great and well priced!).
A perfect container for this type of food gift would be an 18″ (45 cm) pastry bag, which will showcase each ingredient when added in a layer. To assemble, add each ingredient in the order provided above, and secure it shut with a ribbon of your choice. Add a gift tag with the preparation instructions. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to enjoy.