Lentil Soup | Recipes from Ancient History

Week 21 of Dave Raymond’s Antiquity course, covers “Make Straight the Highway: Between the Testaments” We often think about what these men and women did, but we don’t always remember what they ate, Like Lentil Soup.

The era between the old and new testaments was a time of expansion and change across the civilized world, including cuisine. But as food was evolving, some dishes stayed around, like lentil soup. Lentil soup goes back to Genesis, with it possibly being the dish Jacob served Esau for his birthright and would have been eaten all over the Alexandrian empire, Middle East, and beyond. The soup was easy because lentils could be dried, stored away, then pulled out and immediately cooked in liquid, rather than having to soak them overnight before cooking them. The following recipe is not original to the time but is very similar to what would have been made then. 

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves or 3 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. chicken or vegetable broth (or 2 c. Broth and 2 c. Water)
  • 1/2 c. green or brown lentils, rinsed 
  1. In large pot heat olive oil. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Stir in the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and salt, and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Pour in broth and lentils, cover pot, and bring to a simmer. Let cook 20-30 minutes or until lentils are cooked. Serve plain or with yogurt, bread, or pita. 
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