A Potage of Lentils

This soup is sometimes known as Esau's soup and is traditionally served in Jewish households as part of a meal for Shabbat. Red lentils and vegetables are cooked and pureed, then sharpened with lots of lemon juice.

  • 45 ms / 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 250 g / 9 oz / generous 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 litre / 1¾ pints / 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 lemons, halved
  • 2.5 ml / ½ tbsp ground cumin, or to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce, to taste
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Lemon slices and chopped
  • fresh flat leaf parsley leaves, to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the celery, carrots, half the garlic and all the potato. Cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften.
  2. Add the lentils and stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potato and lentils are tender.
  3. Add the bay leaves, remaining garlic and half the lemons to the pan and cook the soup for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemons, then stir into the soup, to taste.
  4. Pour the soup into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. (You may need to do this in batches.) Tip the soup back into the pan, stir in the cumin, cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each portion with lemon slices and a sprinkling of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley. Serve immediately.
    On a hot day, serve this soup cold, with even more lemon juice.
A Potage of Lentils