If ever there was a month perfect for soups, this would be it. Not only is it the coldest time of year here in Sydney (YAAY! don’t hate me people of Cairo lol), but it also happens to coincide with the gorgeous Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Oh how I love Ramadan! As far as I’m concerned, Ramadan has always harboured elements of pure magic.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, during these 30 days every year, Muslims from all over the world fast from sunrise till sunset. We do not eat or drink at all throughout the day, and when the sun sets we break our fast. Traditionally, we do so with a few dates and water, followed by soup, then a meal…in reality, we all stuff our faces till we slip into blissful food comas.
As a kid growing up in Egypt, Ramadan used to come in winter and soup was always what I craved the most to warm me up on those chilly evenings. However, the Islamic year is shorter than the 12-month year we all know…so as I grew older, Ramadan began to creep closer and closer towards summer, and before we knew it, it started to come smack in the middle of summer’s hottest months. This means longer days of fasting, more intense thirst than ever before and very low tolerance for piping hot soup…which kind of makes me sad because of how I have always associated Ramadan with delicious, steamy bowls of soup.
Luckily for me, because I’m all the way down here in the land of Oz, I’m back to the wintery Ramadan of my childhood…minus all my family and friends and festivities and…ok enough before I start crying. Let’s stay on the positive side of things here!
This soup was always my father’s favourite. As he used to say, it really is a meal in itself, especially when served with crispy golden croutons (which are traditionally made with deep fried cubes of toast). I opted for a lighter, oven crisped whole-wheat pita crouton, which is equally delicious and even more violently crunchy. I have also recently discovered how delicious it is to scatter some dukkah onto this soup as well. It just works so beautifully with the smooth cumin-y flavour of the lentils. Entirely optional of course, but highly encouraged.
I felt that this recipe is the perfect one to share with you in celebration of the arrival of my beloved Ramadan, and to prepare you for the avalanche of scrumptious Ramadan-y recipes to come, that are all exceptionally dear to my heart.
Ramadan Karim everyone!
- • 2 tbsp. ghee (you may use any fat you prefer, however, I strongly recommend ghee)
- • 1 large onion (about 250g), peeled & roughly chopped
- • 3-6 garlic cloves, peeled (depending how big they are and how much you like garlic)
- • 2 carrots (about 200g), peeled & roughly chopped
- • 1 medium potato (about 250g), peeled & roughly chopped
- • 2 cups dried red lentils (375g), washed & drained
- • 1 large/2 small tomatoes (about 240g), peeled & roughly chopped, seeds removed
- • 1 tsp. ground cumin
- • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- • ½ tsp. ground coriander
- • 2-2.5 liters vegetable or chicken stock
- • salt & pepper to taste
- FOR THE CROUTONS
- • 2 loaves whole-wheat pita bread
- • olive oil
- • salt
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and potato. Cook, stirring until starting to soften, about 7 min.
- Add the lentils, tomatoes & spices. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the stock, bring to the boil then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 35-45 min, until vegetables are very soft (test a carrot, if it is soft, then all the rest will be too).
- While the soup is simmering, make the croutons: Preheat oven to 200 C. Use scissors or a knife to cut up the pita bread into small squares, or just tear roughly with your hands into bite-sized pieces. Toss with a generous drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt then spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Place in oven for about 10-12 minutes, until golden and crispy.
- Puree the soup with a stick blender (also known as an immersion blender), or in a regular blender in batches, until completely smooth. (TIP: if you make lots of soup, I highly recommend buying a stick blender. They are quite cheap and save SO much time and cleaning up!)
- Adjust seasoning and serve with croutons and a sprinkle of dukkah if you like.