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Creamy red lentil soup with cumin

Ghillie Basan / 25 November 2020

Creamy Lebanese lentil soup, or crema shorba al-adas, is popular with families throughout Lebanon. This lentil soup uses cumin and cinnamon for added warmth.

Creamy lentil soup
Crema shorba al-adas is a popular Lebanese lentil soup

Cooking time

40 minutes




  • 225g/8oz red lentils
  • 30ml/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g/1½oz butter
  • 10ml/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints chicken stock (or vegetable stock to make vegetarian)
  • 5–10ml/1–2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges, to serve
  • 60ml/4 tbsp thick Greek-style yogurt, to serve


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

Looking for more cooking ideas? Visit our sections for Middle Eastern recipes and Mediterranean recipes


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.