Creamy lentil soup (shorbat ads)

Shorba means soup in Arabic. Ads means lentils, so shorbat ads translates literally into soup of lentils.

shorbat ads with lemon and pita

This popular soup is a Ramadan staple and will be found at Iftar (the daily meal of breaking the fast during Ramadan) tables quite frequently in the Arab world. It is a beautiful, creamy, yellow soup that is both hearty and healthy. It is naturally vegetarian and vegan, has virtually no fat, and is full of heart healthy fiber and vegetables. So almost every diet will love incorporating this dish.

Red or orange lentils

Shorbat Ads or yellow lentil soup

Garnish with cilantro and paprika; serve with pita chips and lemon.

yellow lentil soup

 

The velvety texture might surprise you because there is no fat, milk, or cream added. The orange lentils, along with the aromatic root vegetables of carrot, onion, and garlic are what scent and flavor this delicious soup. I’ve already discussed what a fantastic legume lentils are for your diet in my recipe for lentil  pilaf, and you can read more health benefits here. This creamy lentil soup is often found in many Middle Eastern restaurants nowadays, and while the flavors can vary, this is surely going to be the best recipe. The recipe comes straight from my Egyptian grandmother’s kitchen (Teta), God rest her soul. While turmeric is used in many modern recipes today, it is actually not a part of this authentic recipe. I presume it is used to boost the yellow color, and it certainly does not hurt to add it. I use it because I have it, but it will dye your wooden spoons yellow 😀 Chopped tomatoes are added to the recipe to boost the flavor and the secret ingredient I incorporate is chicken or vegetable stock. Water is perfectly fine, but I find the broth gives an extra boost of flavor. I don’t use any Maggie cubes or other MSG catch all seasoning with who-knows-what in it, so I definitely prefer the flavors added by the tomato, broth, and root vegetables. 

Root vegetables: carrot, onion, garlic, tomato

The flavor companions clockwise: yellow onion, carrots, garlic, tomato.

root vegetables and tomato

The delicious base of this soup’s fantastic flavor starts by simply tossing the vegetables in some olive oil over medium heat, just until fragrant. Pour in the broth or water, the lentils, and spices and you’re pretty much done. 

shredded carrots 2014-06-30sugarandgarlic2014-9 2014-06-30sugarandgarlic2014-10

sauteed vegetables

Lightly sauté in a teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant.

let it simmer...

Let it simmer…

 

 This soup quickly simmers until the lentils break down into a creamy consistency, which takes all but 20 minutes. The orange shelled lentils cook soft very quickly,  unlike their brown shelled counterparts. So be sure to use the correct lentils.

washing and sorting lentils

Be sure to sort and wash the lentils carefully.

Soup simmering.

Simmer on low, until thickened.

Puree the soup.

Puree with an immersion blender.

I then puree the entire mixture once it is cooked soft, into a thick and velvety consistency. The soup thickens significantly when sitting so be sure to stir in some extra water over low heat before serving if this happens. Like many grandmothers love to do, my Teta went the extra mile and added another step to make this soup REALLY lip smacking good. In another pot, she would brown some delicious tiny vermicelli noodles (sha3reya in Arabic) in butter, then pour the pureed soup over it and simmer until the noodles are cooked. This tastes really great and adds a nice texture.  However, I typically omit this step because I am trying to keep the soup healthy and paleo- and mostly because I don’t want to wash another pot! But I will usually do this for guests because it makes the soup extra special 😀

I serve with pita chips on the side, which is optional.

yellow lentil soup. Dip a pita chip. Dip a pita chip.

Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must, if you ask me!

Lemon on soup.

Squeeze some lemon juice.

Lemon on soup.

Enjoy! Bil Hana wil Shifaa (Arabic for with health and healing)

Creamy Lentil Soup- Shorbat Ads
Serves 4
A creamy lentil soup full of flavor and healthy vegetables is hearty and filling!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of red lentils (they are actually orange, but called red:)
  2. 3 cups of broth (or water)
  3. 4 cups of water, plus more to thin later
  4. 1 tsp cumin
  5. 1/2- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  6. pinch of pepper
  7. pinch of turmeric (optional)
  8. 2 large carrots, shredded
  9. 1 tomato, diced
  10. 1 yellow onion, diced
  11. 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  12. 1 tsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. First sort the lentils for any stones, grains, or sand. Wash thoroughly and drain.
  2. In a large pot, over high heat, add the olive oil and vegetables and toss lightly until fragrant. Do not brown it.
  3. Immediately add the lentils, broth, water, and spices. Stir well.
  4. Once the soup begins to boil, reduce to medium-low heat. Allow it to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, uncovered.
  5. Once the lentils are softened and cooked, puree with a blender, and remove from heat. If the soup looks too thick to you, you can add more water over low hear and stir until homogenous.
  6. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, and optionally pita chips.
Notes
  1. Soup will thicken when it sits or when refrigerated. Simply add some water when reheating, and stir.
Adapted from Teta and Mom
Adapted from Teta and Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/
8 replies
  1. Amal
    Amal says:

    Yum yum I can not wait to break my fast on some of this fantastic soup, it is very filling and delicious. I like the idea of adding tomatoes.

    Reply
  2. Rawya
    Rawya says:

    I’ve made this recipe before and it’s literally like the ones I got on the streets in Cairo, it’s awesome! I’ve been craving it for a while now, so it’s time to make it again. Thank you so much for sharing this perfect recipe, alf shokr! 😀

    Reply
    • Noha
      Noha says:

      Rawya, I am so happy to hear that! Thank you for reading and leaving your feedback. This really is one of the best recipes I own, and it’s authentic straight from my Egyptian Grandmother, may God rest her soul.

      Reply
    • Noha
      Noha says:

      Dear Anisa,
      Thanks for your message and checking for clarification. You are correct; this needs 7 cups of liquid total, and possibly more to thin out. The first 3 cups should be a broth (vegetarian or chicken work best), but some readers have wanted to use water instead of broth which will still work but will just be less flavorful. That is why I added water as an option to sub out broth. But the broth really makes the flavor, so I would not recommend omitting broth.

      Reply

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