Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

Recipe generally from here (

  • 6-8 cups chicken broth (depends on how thick you like your soup)
  • 1 12 cups small red lentils
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (very fine if you dont plan on blending the soup)
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 34 teaspoon cumin
  • 1teaspoon turmeric
  • olive oil
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil until softened
  2. Add the cumin and turmeric and stir together for ~30 seconds
  3. Add the broth (I use about 6 cups to start because I like thicker soup. If its looking too thick towards the end of the cooking process I’ll add a little more to get the thickness where I like it.
  4. Stir in the lentils, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for ~20-30 minutes (sometimes the cooking time will vary, but the lentils should be very very soft.
  5. Before serving I usually mix it up with my immersion blender. You can do the same in a regular blender if you want (it just always ends in a disastrous explosion for me so I like the immersion blender). If you shop the onion fine enough in the beginning, you can get away without blending it.
  6. Some restaurants serve this with good olive oil drizzled on top, I usually forget.

Vegetarian Black Bean Soup



1 lb black beans

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp chili powder

4 cups broth? 2 cups water?

Salt and pepper

Avocado/guacamole, sour cream, and lime optional


  1. Rinse beans, cover with water, and bring to boil. Boil for 2 minutes. (shortcut to soaking overnight)
  1. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water
  1. In a large pot over medium high heat, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until slightly softened (2-3 minutes)
  2. Add cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and cook for 30 seconds
  3. Add the broth, water, and boiled beans. Cover and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until beans are soft (1.5 hrs?)
  1. Use immersion blender to lightly blend the beans and vegetables, keeping some chunks for texture
  2. Top with whatever you like (avocado, guacamole, lime, tortilla chips, etc)

Udon Noodles and Vegetables

This recipe is taken from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home book. It is really refreshing and is great for sharing. The version below is a twist on the recipe from the book. I will make a few recommendations for substitutions as I go along. Before beginning make sure you have about 20 minutes available for cooking.


8 oz udon noodles or linquini (spaghetti etc. I personally like the amanti whole wheat linguini for this, I also boiled the entire bag)


1/4 Cup of peanut butter (can be substituted for any kind of nut butter for allergy purposes)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm  water
1/3 cup sesame oil (this is really potent so I would be careful to be exact with this measurement)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 small fresh chile (I substituted red pepper flakes and tabasco sauce)
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder or ground fennel
1/4 cup fresh basil


2/3 cup chopped scallions (I recommend the whole bushel)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced (peeling isn’t necessary unless you don’t like the skin)
2 large carrots, grated
fresh spinach or lettuce leaves (for 4-6 people 1 bag of either should be enough)
1 pkg of Tofu (optional, I did not use this in the recipe but substituted with broccoli)
EXTRAS (all optional):
sesame seeds


Boil a large pot of water. While the water is heating up, mix the sauce together until smooth. If you have a food processor I strongly recommend using it to create a smooth consistency. Set aside.

Cook the noodles in the boiling water until tender but still firm (al dente). Drain the noodles and then douse in cold water. Then drain again. Now you are ready to toss everything together. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the sauce, scallions, cucumbers, and if using, tofu.

Place the above mixture onto a bead of whatever you green you chose (spinach or lettuce) and serve immediately. Any of the noodle portion not being used should be immediately refrigerated. Top with the grated carrots, mushrooms (optional) and sesame seeds (optional but strongly recommended).

If you don’t like cold tofu, and I don’t, then I strongly recommend substituting with another veggie of your choice.


– Wiki Leeks

P.S. Technically this is considered a main dish salad. Realistically it is considered awesome.



Tidbits: This chili is better when aged. What do I mean by this? The longer the flavors mingle, the better it gets! As leftovers, this chili is tops. If you can, try to make it at least a day ahead of time. You can warm it up in a crock pot for parties. To keep it vegetarian – just add more beans or vegetarian crumbles 🙂 Also, I’m not a bean fan, so I only add one can with its juice. If you just love beans, you can add as many as you want. Just make sure to drain all but ONE can.

3 lbs. of ground meat (can be turkey,  can be beef, can be sausage, can be vegeterian crumbles, can be a mix of all of the above)

1 15 oz. can of spicy chili beans

2 28 oz. cans of diced tomatoes with juice

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

mustard (any kind, I use yellow. Make sure to get enough to completely cover the meat.)

1 large onion

1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

4 cubes of beef bouillon

1/2 cup of beer

3 Tbsp – 1/4 cup chili powder (this one is really up to your preference)

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp or more of minced garlic

1 Tbsp dried oregano

2 heaping Tbsp of cumin

2 tsp. of hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s)

1 tsp. of dried basil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. of black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. paprika

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Cheddar Cheese


1. Brown the meat together. Drain excess grease.

2. Squirt mustard on top of meat. Seriously, squirt until it’s completely covered.

3. Add all the other ingredients. Stir till evenly mixed. Heat to low, and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes. I like to simmer mine for at least 4 hours.

4. Stir occasionally. Adjust seasoning to taste.

5. Once it’s finished, use it to top hotdogs, french fries, corn chips, etc. Make sure to add plenty of sharp cheddar cheese on top!

More Tidbits: Seriously, with each day that goes by, this chili tastes even better. Chili is all about the seasonings you use! This is an easy to pull-together recipe, so maybe not the most authentic. Feel free to add whatever hot peppers/vegetables you like. Some favorites: okra, corn, green chilis. If you feel guilty for eating something so rich, go ahead and eat it with a salad. That’s what I do. You can adjust the spiciness by adding more or less cayenne and paprika. Chili powder is more for taste than anything!

Brazilian Shrimp Soup


I first came across a picture of this dish when it was featured on Food Gawker and thought that it looked too good to not bookmark. I didn’t actually try the recipe until a year after I had bookmarked it, and honestly I have been kicking myself ever since. I missed out on a whole extra year of eating this soup! The original recipe can be found here. Note that I have mentioned substitutions that I have personally and successfully tried in parentheses in the ingredients list. Onward!


1 medium yellow onion (white onion)

1 red bell pepper (yellow bell pepper)

1 lemon (2 limes)

1 jalapeno pepper (omit entirely if you don’t like hot food)

3 medium-large cloves of garlic

1/4 to 1/3 cup cilantro

¾ cup long-grain rice

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier)

1 ¾ teaspoon salt (kosher salt, sea salt)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoon olive oil (extra virgin olive oil)

1 ¾ cups canned crushed tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes are the best)

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (lite coconut milk)

2-3 cups water (more water if you like more broth)

12 ounces 51/60 count shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail off (any amount of shrimp is appropriate, more shrimp info here)


  1. Assemble all the ingredients.
  2. Pour olive oil into a large pot or dutch oven and set stove on medium-high heat.
  3. Chop onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno and drop into the now heated oil. Make sure to chop everything into bite size pieces and try to be consistent in chopped size for even cooking. Cook until vegetables are translucent and becoming soft (approximately 7 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Measure out rice, crushed red pepper, salt, tomatoes and water while the vegetables are sweating it out and add them into the pot after step 2 is complete.
  5. Bring everything just to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Let it cook for approximately 10 minutes. After this time, the rice should be pretty close to being done.
  6. While the soup is boiling, open the can of coconut milk and set aside. Chop the cilantro and then measure it. Also, squeeze lemon into a small bowl (pick out the seeds if any drop in) and add pepper. Cut shrimp in half and set aside in another bowl. Set all this aside.
  7. Once step 5 is complete, stir in the coconut milk and allow the mixture to come back up to a simmer.
  8. Add the shrimp and stir the mixture so that all the shrimp are submerged. Let the shrimp cook for approximately 3-5 minutes. This time is dependent on the size of the shrimp and whether or not they were frozen to begin with. Just check on them every few minutes to see how they’re doing. The shrimp should be opaque and pink when done. It’s also important not to overcook because eating tough and chewy shrimp is gross. Just keep an eye on the shrimp (that is, don’t go check your e-mail while you’re waiting).
  9. Stir in chopped cilantro and the lemon juice (with black pepper already mixed in) into the soup and serve!

More Tidbits:

I suggest serving the soup with crusty bread and a nice, crisp Riesling. I tagged the recipe as medium difficulty only because the recipe involves some chopping and some decision making regarding whether or not enough time has elapsed in order to move to the next step. If you are comfortable with these things, I would deem it an easy recipe. Everything is as straightforward as described.