When I first moved to Chicago in 2008 I started working in Albany Park for a fantastic community health center.  Albany Park is a very interesting community made up of Middle Eastern and Hispanic immigrants.  On one corner I got my eyebrows threaded, on another I could buy hot homemade tortillas, and across the street was Al-Khymieh Restaurant.  Al-Khymieh had the best lentil soup which was served with warm pita bread and it only cost a few dollars.  I have tried multiple times to recreate this soup at home and failed horribly.  Finally I found a recipe at AllRecipes.com that looked promising.  I tweaked the recipe a bit and made it my own.  Here is the result:

  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smooshed through a garlic press
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash of Madras Curry Powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

In a large, heavy pot bring lentils and chicken broth to a low boil.  Cover and let boil for 20 minutes.  In a skillet heat olive oil and saute carrots, onion, and garlic for a few minutes.  Mix carrots, onion and garlic into the lentils.  Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and serve.  I found that I did not care for a lot of lemon juice so I would add it in increments to your liking.  This soup is hearty and a little spicy, perfect for a cold winter day.  I had it with a wheat bagel but you could serve it with pitas.