Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Christine Datian’s Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur

Christine Datian and I have been email-buddies for several years, sharing family recipes and kitchen secrets with one another.
Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur
Even though I’ve posted numerous lentil soup recipes, my feeling is that one can never have too many. So when Christine sent me her version of Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur, not only was she was eager for me to post it, I was anxious to try it myself. (I wanted to compare it with my own recipe.) The soup is loaded with healthy ingredients, and offers a ‘kick’ from the cayenne pepper, Tabasco, and red pepper flakes. (Warning: If you don’t like your foods spicy, ease up on – or eliminate – the spicy ingredients.)

Christine included the following recipe pointers:
“The secret is to cook this lentil soup on low to medium low for at least two hours, no less, and to use a hand blender at the very end, when the soup is done; take it off the stove, blend it for about one minute or more, return to the stove, add the spinach and parsley (optional), and cook for five minutes longer. "This soup really is best served the next day.", John (Christine’s husband) says.
I always use beef broth (lamb broth if you have it). My mother said she adds some lamb chops or lamb shoulder meat to the soup when she has time. First, she would boil the lamb meat to get the fat out of it, rinse, then add to the soup. I add the diced baking potato (or a few small diced red potatoes) along with the bulgur for flavor and thickening.”

Robyn’s suggestion: Don’t be intimidated by a recipe with a long ingredient list. In order to prepare such a recipe successfully, always gather the necessary ingredients and tools in advance. The culinary term is ‘mise en place’.

We hope you’ll enjoy it!


While you’re at it, why not check out some of Christine’s other recipes that have appeared on this site: ‘Bulgur Pilaf with Onions and TomatoJuice’, ‘Red Lentil Soup’, ‘Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches’, ‘Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta’, ‘Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh’, ‘Potato and Lamb Moussaka’.

Christine Datian’s Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur

1 pound dried lentil beans, picked through and rinsed
6 cups water
4 cups beef broth
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced or chopped
3-4 medium carrots, diced or chopped
3-4 stalks celery, diced or chopped (including top greens)
1 medium baking potato, diced
1/2 cup medium or fine bulgur (for thickening)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon each dried basil and cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper (more to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh or dried mint
Dash of Tabasco, onion salt, and cayenne pepper
Paprika and red pepper flakes to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, about 1/3 cup (use at the end)
Chopped fresh spinach, about 1/2 bunch, washed (use at end, optional)


In a large soup pot, bring all ingredients to a full boil, stir, cover, and reduce to medium low and cook for 2 hours; check and stir occasionally so soup does not stick; before serving, use a hand blender to blend soup for a minute, so it thickens more, if desired; check seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if desired. 
Use an immersion blender to slightly puree the soup. Stir in fresh parsley and/or spinach and cook for a few minutes longer before serving.  Serves 6-8.

What I did differently when making Christine’s recipe:
1. Used 2 cups of green lentils and 1/3 cup of #1 (fine) bulgur.
2. Increased the amount of stewed tomatoes to 1 – 14.5 oz. can, then added 2 Tbsp. of red pepper paste instead of using the tomato paste and tomato sauce.
3. Omitted potato and parsley because I didn’t have any on hand.
4. Toned down the heat by only using 1/4 tsp. each of cayenne pepper, and Aleppo red pepper.

1 comment:

  1. My mother's kitchen ca.1920s wouldn't have had all those ingredients. I was taught to make "vospov shorva" with water, lentils (vosp), and bulghur in the mid 50s. It was finished off with "sorkhantz". Caramelized diced onion. Amazing how wonderful the combo of those very simple ingredients could taste.