Red Lentil Soup “Shorbat Adas" and Gluten Free Low Carb Za'atar Rolls
By Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
While many cultures have deemed the lowly lentil as “peasant food,” archaeologists have found lentils inside the tombs of pharaohs from ancient Egypt, elevating the legume to royal status. Rich in fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, and potassium, lentils are often overlooked as a superfood and nutritional powerhouse, perhaps because many people find them bland or don’t know how to prepare them. “Shorbat Adas” or Lentil Soup, is one recipe staple of Arab cuisine that is easy to prepare and is hearty, satisfying, delicious.
Red lentils, in particular, impart a creamy texture to any soup with no need for cream. Very few ingredients from your pantry with the addition of onions, garlic, and carrots can transform into a magical bowl of vegan goodness with this recipe. The addition of lemon juice at the end adds a nice kick, and the vitamin C from the lemon actually helps your body absorb the iron from the lentils. Amazing how ancient Arabs intuitively knew which food combinations to eat in order to maximize nutrient absorption. Ancient soup meets modern bread with these low carb za’atar cauliflower rolls, which you can literally plop into the soup as a fun alternative to dumplings, or smear with hummus on the side.
Red Lentil Soup “Shorbat Adas”
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 ½ cup red lentils
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Juice of ½ lemon
- Heat oil in a pan and gently fry the chopped onions for 5 minutes or until browned.
- Add the chopped garlic, turmeric and cumin and continue cooking for a few minutes more.
- Stir in the lentils, add the stock and cook for 30 minutes. Stir several times during cooking, especially towards the end, to prevent lentils from sticking to the base of the pan.
- Stir in lemon juice and serve.
For the Video tutorial on both the soup and the rolls, click on Blanche’s video below:
Gluten Free Low Carb Za’atar rolls
Bread and rice have always been a main part of the Middle Eastern diet. However, the advent of refined grains and flours combined with more sedentary lifestyles has led to a dramatic increase of diabetes in Middle Eastern populations. These cauliflower bread rolls might not taste 100% like bread, but they do have a bread like feel and allow you to enjoy dips like labneh and hummus with zero guilt. You can also drop these rolls into any warm soup (like shorbat adas) to sop up all the flavor, like Indian idlis or Eastern European dumplings. The “flour” is made up of finely ground cauliflower rice, almond flour, and coconut flour. Cauliflower rice and low carb flours are now easy to find in any major market, thus removing the step of having to separate and chop the cauliflower florets.
MAKES 12 ROLLS
2 ½ cups riced cauliflower
2 tbsp almond flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp za’atar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Put the riced cauliflower into food processor and process until fine (but not pasty yet) In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, add the cauliflower and the rest of the ingredients except for the sesame seeds and za’atar. Roll the cauliflower mixture into balls and flatten slightly as you put them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the za’atar (or black sesame seeds if you prefer) over the rolls and make sure you press the spices or seeds into the rolls. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. You can also broil them for 2 minutes for extra crispy rolls.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, food writer, and host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/