The Levant region refers to the area in which agriculture began, the area which is now modern-day Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Iran, Kuwait, and Cypress. While domesticated cereal crops developed in different places at different times, and it’s contentious as to which grain was domesticated first, experts agree that for the Near East, lentils were among the first items to be intentionally grown and bred by human hands. There’s also abundant evidence that shows it to have been cultivated in its wild form by Neolithic hunter gatherers prior to its use in agriculture. Suffice to say, the humble legume played a critical role in ensuring the nutritional needs of growing human populations were met, and they continue to be an important food in many places today.
For those of us who try to eat whole foods and gravitate toward a plant based diet, they can be an excellent source of protein and fiber. In my recipe, I used a mix of red lentils and green, then complimented them with red and white kidney beans, brown rice, and a variety of fresh veggies that I happened to have on hand.
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
7 cloves of garlic, minced
2″ piece of ginger root, grated
2 tbsp sambal oelek (or spicy agent of your choice, like sriracha or ground red chili like cayenne or arbol)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground turmeric
8 c veggie stock
4 c water
3/4 c red lentils
3/4 c brown lentils
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can white kidney beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
3 c finely chopped kale
2 c cooked brown rice
2 c zucchini, chopped
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
salt to taste
- In a large stock pot over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onion, celery, and carrot until they caramelize and begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the ground spices and toss to coat.
- Add the stock and water, the lentils, beans, tomatoes, and kale, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer and cover until lentils are cooked and tender.
- Add zucchini and brown rice and simmer about 5 more minutes, then allow it to stand covered for another 5-10 minutes to cook the zucchini before finishing with parsley and salt.
This soup is excellent with a dollop of yogurt!