This is probably considered the simplest, most everyday family meal in Greek families. Even then, a simple dish can have its secrets. Equally loved and loved by children, this starchy soup brings back childhood memories as a comforting and filling dish.
Although soaking lentils is not absolutely necessary, I consider it worthwhile. If you soak and sprout them you can increase their nutritional value and shorten their cooking time. It takes about eight hours of soaking and 12 hours for them to start sprouting. Wash them well and soak them. Then strain them well and leave them for 12 hours in a strainer that is well ventilated from all sides. Water them in the strainer a couple of times in this period, mixing them well each time and you will soon see their little white root. Even if you don’t have time to sprout them, even you only soak them, they cook faster and evenly afterwards, becoming more “plump” as they boil.
I also prefer adding stock instead of water. We certainly have plenty of it most days as it is gently simmering away almost daily or there is always a good quantity in the freezer. The stock adds both nourishment and taste. I ‘ve noticed that with the stock the soup thickens well having to overcook it or keep stirring it all the time. When I first introduced our children to bone marrow, a meze they now eat as a spread, I used to stir it into the soup to dissolve.
Finally we accompany them with either apaki (smoked pork preserved in vinegar from Crete) or octopus in vinegar, since vinegar’s acidic, sweet and sour flavor suits lentils so well. Also, both options contain haem iron which with the absorption of the non-haem iron found in pulses.
- 500 g. lentils, soaked and sprouted
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp paprika or 1 chili
- Water or broth to cover by 2 cm.
- 1 tblsp tomato paste
Combine the lentils, carrots, garlic and herbs in a large pot and pour in enough stock or water to cover our ingredients by 2 centimeters. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 30 ‘-35 ‘ (if the lentils are not sprouted, it will take 10 ‘ more). Check to see if they are completely soft and if they are done, add the tomato paste and the salt and stir well. Serve with olive oil and vinegar.