This is a flavorful yet mild soup, even tempered enough to welcome a toddler's taste buds, while being hearty and interesting enough for grown-up cravings. With ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron for warmth — a combination of lentils, chickpeas, fennel, onions and tomatoes for substance - add a hunk of bread or salad on the side and dinner is done. It also freezes beautifully and almost tastes better reheated the next day for lunch.
2-3 tbls olive oil
1 fennel bulb
1 red onion
1 white onion
2-3 cloves garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a few saffron threads (optional)
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken, whatever you have on hand)
1 cup dried lentils (green, brown, red or yellow), picked through and rinsed
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
4 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas), drained and rinsed
In a food processor blitz the fennel, onions, carrots, and garlic, until finely chopped. Heat oil in a 4-quart pot with over medium heat. Add the chopped veg, and cook, stiring occasionally over medium heat for about 10-12 minutes, until the veg are a bit translucent and softe. Add tomatoes with their liquid and increase heat to high until the mixture comes to a simmer. Add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic and saffron, if using, and let them infuse the mixture with their flavors for a few more minutes.
Add in the broth, lentils, cilantro and parsley sprigs, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add sugar and salt and pepper, stirring the mixture a couple of times. Cover pot and let simmer for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Add garbanzo beans and cook, uncovered, for another 5 to 7 minutes until heated through. Mix well and season again with salt and pepper. Remove and discard cilantro and parsley.
I love it exactly as is, yet if you like a thicker soup, remove about 1 cup of the cooked lentils and garbanzo beans from the soup and process them in blender, adding some extra liquid if needed. Add the blended mixture back to the soup. For a thinner soup, add more broth.