Lentil soups are a great favourite in the region – every family has their own lentil soup recipe. Cumin is the common spice to add to dishes prepared with lentils and pulses as it eases the digestion, and cinnamon adds a warming touch at the end. This is crema shorba al-adas.
Rinse and drain the lentils. Heat the oil and butter in a large, heavy pan and stir in the cumin seeds. Cook, stirring, until they emit a nutty aroma.
Add the onions, and fry, stirring until they begin to turn golden brown. Add the drained lentils to the onions, and stir to coat with oil.
Pour the stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes, topping up with water if necessary.
Ladle the mixture into a food processor or blender and whizz to a paste. Return the soup to the pan to reheat, season with salt and pepper and ladle it into individual bowls.
Dust with a little ground cinnamon and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over. Add a spoonful of yogurt to each bowl, if you like.
Extracted from The Lebanese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan, published by Lorenz Books, ISBN 9780754834694, £20
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