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Shorba means soup in Arabic. Ads means lentils, so shorbat ads translates literally into soup of lentils.
This popular soup is a Ramadan staple and will be found at Iftar (the daily meal of breaking the fast during Ramadan) tables quite frequently in the Arab world. It is a beautiful, creamy, yellow soup that is both hearty and healthy. It is naturally vegetarian and vegan, has virtually no fat, is gluten free, and is full of heart healthy fiber and vegetables. So almost every diet will love incorporating this dish.
The velvety texture might surprise you because there is no fat, milk, or cream added. The orange lentils, along with the aromatic root vegetables of carrot, onion, and garlic are what scent and flavor this delicious soup. I’ve already discussed what a fantastic legume lentils are for your diet in my recipe for lentil pilaf, and you can read more health benefits here. This creamy lentil soup is often found in many Middle Eastern restaurants nowadays, and while the flavors can vary, this is surely going to be the best recipe.
This recipe comes straight from my Egyptian grandmother’s kitchen (Teta), God rest her soul. While turmeric is used in many modern recipes today, it is actually not a part of this authentic recipe. I presume it is used to boost the yellow color, and it certainly does not hurt to add it. I use it because I love the nutritional benefits of fresh turmeric root, but beware it will dye your fingers and spoons yellow 😀 Chopped tomatoes are added to the recipe to boost the flavor and the secret ingredient I incorporate is chicken or vegetable stock. Water is perfectly fine, but I find the broth gives an extra depth of flavor. I don’t use any Maggie cubes or other MSG catch all seasoning with who-knows-what in it, so I definitely prefer the flavors added by the tomato, broth, turmeric, and root vegetables.
The delicious base of this soup’s fantastic flavor starts by simply sautéing the vegetables in some olive oil over medium heat, just until fragrant. Pour in the broth or water, the lentils, and spices and you’re pretty much done. I used to shred the carrots and turmeric, but I realized this isn’t neccesary because I blend the entire soup into a velvety smooth texture at the end of the simmer anyway. So a rough chop of all the vegetables is perfectly okay!
Prepare the lentils by picking them over for dirt particles, and wash thoroughly then drain.
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This soup quickly simmers until the lentils break down into a creamy consistency, which takes all but 20 minutes. The orange shelled lentils cook soft very quickly, unlike the brown shelled lentils. So be sure to use the correct lentils.
I then puree the entire mixture once it is cooked soft, into a thick and velvety consistency. The soup thickens significantly when sitting so be sure to stir in some extra water over low heat before serving if this happens. Like many grandmothers love to do, my Teta went the extra mile and added another step to make this soup REALLY lip smacking good. In another pot, she would brown some delicious tiny vermicelli noodles (sha3reya in Arabic) in butter, then pour the pureed soup over it and simmer until the noodles are cooked. This tastes really great and adds a nice texture. However, I typically omit this step because I am trying to keep the soup healthy and paleo- and mostly because I don’t want to wash another pot! But I will usually do this for guests because it makes the soup extra special 😀
I serve with pita chips on the side, which is optional.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must, if you ask me!
Enjoy! Bil Hana wil Shifaa (Arabic for with health and healing)
- 2 cups of red lentils (they are actually orange, but called red)
- 3 cups of broth (or water)
- 4 cups of water, plus more to thin later
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tsp minced turmeric root, or 1/2 tsp powder (optional)
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- 1 tsp olive oil
- First sort the lentils for any stones, grains, or sand. Wash thoroughly and drain.
- In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil and onions with carrots and toss lightly until yellow and fragrant. Only sautee until soft; do not brown it.
- Add the garlic, turmeric, and tomatoes and stir for another minute.
- Immediately add the lentils, broth, water, and spices. Stir well.
- Once the soup begins to boil, reduce to medium-low heat. Allow it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, covered.
- Once the lentils are softened and cooked, puree with a blender, and remove from heat. If the soup looks too thick to you, you can add more water over low heat and stir until homogenous.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges, a cilantro garnish, and optionally pita chips.
- Soup will thicken when it sits or when refrigerated. Simply add some water when reheating, and stir.
- By Noha ElSharkawy
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This is not only extremely easy and fast to make, but the best recipe yet. I love a good marinara sauce because it is so basic and essential in so many recipes: spaghetti, linguine, lasagne, casserole, grilled vegetables, shrimp stir-fry, stuffed zucchini and peppers, eggplant […]
Here is another one of my absolute favorite Middle Eastern dishes. “Mahshy” literally means stuffed, and I love all things mashy. Stuffed vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, and stuffed cabbage are all fantastic dishes in the Middle Eastern kitchen. Parsley and mint are prevalent in most Middle Eastern recipes, as is garlic. All three of these flavorings take center stage in this recipe. This satisfying dish can serve as a main entree or a side. The stuffing can be prepared completely vegetarian with only the herbs and rice, or you can add ground beef or lamb as we typically prefer to do. But I have cooked it both ways many times, and it is very delicious and full of flavor either way!
The stuffing consists of medium grain rice (get Egyptian rice if you are shopping at an International market, or sticky sushi rice works well per the recommendation of my girl Dalia), chopped parsley, mint, dill, diced onions, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, and some spices. The spices are a medley of cinnamon, cumin, baharat, salt and pepper. The Arabic spice baharat, is a warm, aromatic all-purpose spice and it is used often in most Middle Eastern recipes. You are not likely to find it in a regular grocery store. If you do not have access to a Middle Eastern store, you could use a combination of ground all spice and cloves as an adequate substitute. You could also make your own baharat spices with the following recipe I found on The Kitchn. If you are using ground meat in the stuffing, you will need to cook this first in a pot with minced onions, salt and pepper, and a dash of all spice.
The eggplants and zucchinis need to get cored with a coring tool, or a butter knife works well if you use careful strokes! Peppers are wonderful because all you need to do is cut the top off. The last time we did this we used the smaller sweet peppers that come in a variety or red, orange, and yellow. I also love to use an onion as is typical in Iraq. You simply simmer a peeled onion in boiling water for a few minutes until the layers become malleable enough to roll. When this dish cooks, the cinnamon, herbs, and vegetables scent the air beautifully; it simply smells amazing!
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Anybody can stuff some veggies with this flavorful filling, and you’d be halfway there at achieving deliciousness. But the secret is in the sauce. I have had this dish prepared before and it tasted either too dry from baking in the oven or too bland. The sauce I use to cook this in perfects the flavor and texture and must not be omitted! It is simply wonderful: very lemony and cooks the veggies and stuffing juicy and zesty and full of flavor. As most of my cooking is a delicate fusion of many Middle Eastern countries, this dish originates from my mother’s Egyptian cooking, but is infused with some delicious Lebanese flavor that I picked up from one of my best friends, Melanie. Melanie’s stepmother, Tunt Soad, who is an excellent chef from Lebanon would often have this dish prepared when we would come over after school and I always looked forward to it! When I wasn’t at her house I would beg her to bring some to school for lunch, and I still craved more. I finally asked Tunt Soad for the recipe and have been cooking my stuffed veggies the same way ever since! The sauce consists of marinara sauce, fresh squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, dry mint, baharat, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.
You can either stack the stuffed veggies in a pot and cook over the stove, or lay them in a baking dish and bake in the oven. As long as you cover the veggies with this sauce it will come out nice and juicy and flavorful. Enjoy! Or as they say in Lebanon “Sahtein” (good health) or “Bil hana wil shifa” (with joy and with health) as they say in Egypyt. After all isn’t that what food should be for: health, nutrition, and well-being?
- about 10 short and wide zucchinis
- about 10 short and wide eggplants
- 1 large onion
- 2 large bell peppers
- 1 c medium grain rice (Egyptian rice or sushi rice)
- 1 tsp baharat or all spice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 1-2 tomatoes diced
- 1/4 c chopped parsley
- 1/4 c chopped dill
- 1 tbsp chopped mint
- Optional: 1 lb ground beef, browned and cooked with 1 onion, salt and pepper, and baharat
- 1/2 c marinara sauce, such as Prego
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c lemon juice
- 1 tsp dry mint
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp baharat or all spice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Peel and score the large onion to slice it open halfway. This will allow you to peel away the soft layers later. Simmer in boiling water for about 5-10 minutes until the onion layers are malleable enough to stuff with filling and roll. Do not over cook it so that it is too soft as it will cook more later in the pot. Set aside to cool.
- Wash the zucchinis, peppers, and eggplants and cut off the tops. Core out the center of the eggplants and zucchinis and reuse the inner flesh for another recipe such as baba ghanough or zucchini bread.
- Combine all ingredients for the stuffing.
- Fill each vegetable halfway with the stuffing, as it will increase in size as it cooks. For the onions, peel off a layer of the onion, fill with a teaspoon of stuffing, and roll tightly.
- Neatly place each vegetable into a pot, standing upright to prevent the stuffing from spilling out as it cooks. If you will bake in a baking dish, laying the vegetables down will be fine as they will not be disturbed by boiling liquid.
- Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and mix well. Pour over all the vegetables and pour olive oil on the very top of the pot. Simmer on medium high heat, and turn the heat down to low once it boils. Cover halfway with a lid and remove from heat once the rice in the center is tender (about 20-25 minutes). If baking in the oven, bake at 350 degrees, for 35 minutes.
- It is important that the rice in the vegetables is covered with cooking sauce in order for it to cook well. Potatoes, tomatoes, and other vegetables may be used in this recipe as well but using zucchini and eggplant is the traditional way to prepare this dish.
- You may also substitute the rice for quinoa or bulgur to make this dish a little healthier and contain less carbs!
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This is such an easy and healthy salad to make and it goes great with any Mexican themed meals! It is also hearty enough to be a main meal for lunch or a light dinner. Avocados are one of those super foods with many great health benefits. I love them! Avocados optimize carotenoid absorption, support blood sugar regulation, have anti-inflammatory benefits, and improve heart health and cardiovascular health. They are also an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamins C , K and B6. It truly is a superfood and I LOVE to use them whenever I can!
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- 2 avocados
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- corn on the cob (cooked in microwave or grilled)
- 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
- 2 limes, juiced (1/4 cup)
- 3 cloves minced garlic (1 tbsp)
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- First cook the corn. If you want the chargrilled flavor, cook it over a fire on a gas range or grill or inside your oven. Once cooled to the touch, slice the corn off the cob and allow it to cool completely before adding to your salad.
- Mix the chopped or sliced vegetables together in a large bowl.
- Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, and pour over the salad.
- This goes great with tacos, fajitas, or burritos!