Lentil soup is popular in the Greece menu when the Greek Orthodox Church prohibits eating meat or fish, especially during the Great Lent and Good Friday. Lentils are a good source of iron and proteins. Lentil soup is straight forward to make and it can be prepared without oil, if necessary.
For a plain lentil soup with not olive oil
- Place lentils, onion celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, oregano, and tomato in a large kettle.
For a more flavorful Greek lentil soup
- Heat olive oil in a large kettle over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions and celery, cook for 3 minutes, add carrots and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add lentils, garlic, bay leaf, pepper, oregano, and tomato.
Simmer, garnish and serve
- Cover with water, about 8 cups. Bring to a boil. Cover kettle and simmer over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes.
- Add salt and vinegar to lentil soup, stir lightly to mix, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes more, or until lentils are tender.
- Stir in parsley and serve in individual soup bowls.
Food in Europe
Although lentils come pretty clean of foreign objects nowadays, it is good practice to prepare and clean them before cooking. To prepare lentils, spread them evenly on a tray or a cookie sheet. Pick out any small stones, other foreign objects and lentils that may have spoiled. Place lentils in a bowl, cover with cold water and soak for 6 to 8 hours. Then drain lentils in a colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
When simmering, add more water if soup becomes too thick.
For non soaked lentils, double the cooking time. If using a pressure cooker, halve it.
Substitute tomato with 2 tablespoons tomato paste and vinegar with lemon juice for more flavor.
Apart from meat and fish, oil and wine can also be restricted on certain dates by the rules of the Greek Orthodox Church.