Thursday, September 27, 2012

Armenian Lentil Soup with Macaroni

To the fabulous readers of Mission: Food... I'm leaving on a jet plane. I will be on vacation for the next 3 weeks visiting the beautiful country of Armenia, where both of my parents were born and raised. I traveled there for the first time 3 years ago and it simply took my breath away. I can't wait for another adventure exploring the traditions of my ancestors. When I return, I definitely plan on sharing my experiences with you all, so I hope you're looking forward to it!

During my time away, I have arranged for a few of my amazing blogger friends to fill in for me. I've tasked them each with the theme of "travel" to inspire their posts. I hope you enjoy the first ever series of guest posts on Mission: Food! I'm really excited to share them with you all :)

As my sendoff, I'm sharing an Armenian soup recipe that is a favorite of my family's. It's easy to make and very satisfying. Featuring hearty lentils, macaroni, and lots of flavor from garlic, lemon juice, and cumin, it's sure to satisfy the soup-lovers in your family as well. And with that, I shall bid you adieu until my return :-D

Armenian Lentil Soup with Macaroni
Serves 6 to 8

3/4 cup small macaroni, such as ditalini, small shells, or stars (pastina)
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onions
2 cups lentils
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water (if making vegetarian soup, omit chicken broth and use 8 cups water instead)
2 T. tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and hot red pepper (such as cayenne)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until almost al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened. Then add the lentils, broth, and water, cover and bring the mixture to a boil. When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the cooked pasta, tomato paste, garlic, lemon juice, and cumin. Season with salt and hot pepper (just a pinch or two). Serve hot.

*Note* You may be tempted to just boil the pasta directly in the soup, but doing so will absorb much of the liquid and leave the soup incredibly thick. Leftover soup may thicken up as well, as the residual liquid absorbs into the pasta, but feel free to thin it out with a little water or chicken broth when you heat it back up.


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