Recipe: Pomegranate and Lentil Soup
Native to the Middle East, pomegranate season in North America is autumn. Almost like a puzzle to eat, the brilliant red seeds (arils) of the pomegranate are sweet, tart and burst with juice. They’re well worth the trouble to free from the white pith that hold everything tightly together. Clinical studies suggest the health benefits from the high antioxidant levels in pomegranates may be beneficial for the prevention of variety of ailments from heart disease to some cancers.
There are many classic Middle Eastern recipes that use pomegranates as an ingredient. The following soup combines pomegranate juice with lentils for a dense soup that’s perfect for cool autumn suppers served with pita bread and a cucumber salad.
Pomegranate and Lentil Soup
This is a beautiful soup with origins in Persia. Omit the meatballs and use plain water or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version that is equally delicious.
3/4 cup lentils
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1 large onion peeled and chopped
1 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika (hot or mild)
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2 cups pomegranate juice or 1 cup pomegranate molasses mixed with 1 cup water
1 tablespoon dried mint
Salt and pepper to taste
½ lb ground beef
½ lb ground lamb
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Preserved lemon strips
Pick over lentils for the occasional bits of debris, then wash them in several changes of clean water. In a very large saucepan or stockpot, sauté the onion in the butter or oil over medium heat until light brown. Add the lentils, rice, turmeric, paprika and all the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils and rice are tender, about 45 minutes.
Combine the meatball ingredients and form into 2 inch meatballs. Lightly brown on all sides in olive oil. Remove from pan and drain.
Add the meatballs, parsley, scallions, and pomegranate juice to the soup. Simmer another 15-30 minutes or until soup reaches your preferred consistency. Add mint and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish as desired with raisins, preserved lemon and pomegranate seeds as desired.