It's officially cold, and my fingers feel like icicles as I type this. I guess that's why I've been craving soup lately. Unfortunately I've had a busy travel and shooting schedule (I'm hosting my own show!), the past few weeks and I haven't had time to spend all that much time in my kitchen.
This Shorbat Adas has been a quick lifesaver that's literally kept my fingers warm and the cold at bay. It's a delicious Middle Eastern lentil soup who's short list of ingredients and quick prep time belies its complex layers of flavors and abundant umami.
I've seen a lot of recipes call for substituting fresh limes or lemon for the dried onesin, but I think the use of dried limes is the key to setting Shorbat Adas apart from other lentil soups like its Indian counterpart Masoor Dal. That's because the limes undergo the Maillard reaction while drying, which transforms the flavor in the same way that caramelized onions taste different from raw onions.
Speaking of caramelized onions, since this soup is so simple, it's important to make sure your onions and garlic are well caramelized to ensure your Shorbat Adas is as loaded with flavor as it should be. I like to add the cumin in with the onions and garlic, which helps release its aroma.
Using a pressure cooker greatly reduces the cooking time, but you do need to be careful as this can easily burn. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make this in a regular pot, but you'll need to cook it for 25-30 minutes, and you may need to add some extra stock to account for the extra evaporation. You could also pre-soak the lentils for a few hours to speed up the cooking time.
While you don't eat the limes, I like to include one in each bowl and then you can press on it a bit with the back of your spoon to extract every last bit of tangy umami goodness. Serve Shorbat Adas with some warm pita or your favorite bread.
- Add the olive oil onions and garlic to a pressure cooker and saute the onions until they are soft and browned. Add the cumin and continue sauteing until the cumin is very fragrant.
- Add the vegetable stock, washed lentils, dried limes, tomato paste, salt and turmeric.
- Seal the pressure cooker lid and set for high pressure. Bring the pressure cooker up to pressure over high heat and then turn down the heat to maintain a steady stream of steam and cook for 7 minutes.
- When the Shorbat Adas is done, use the quick release feature of your cooker to quickly bring down the pressure (for my cooker I put it in the sink and run it under cold water).
- Adjust salt to taste and serve drizzled with some extra olive oil. You can also garnish with a bit of sumac for some extra tang.