Lebanese Lentil Soup with Lemon, Chard & Potatoes
Ricetta in Italiano in fondo
This is a favourite childhood meal of mine, comfort food if you will, and one that I make frequently for Amal and I come the cooler months. We both love it and it warms us from the inside out. It’s a traditional Lebanese soup, known in Arabic as Adas bi hamoud which literally translates to lentils in lemon. It’s delicious, nutritious and a complete one-pot meal. It comes together with very little effort and tastes great even after a few days, so it’s a perfect addition to your weekly meal preparation. It even freezes well so you can double or triple batch it and freeze it for those days when all you have time and energy for is thawing and reheating. We’ve all been there.
Besides being delicious comfort food, this soup is an amazing source of non-heme (plant based) iron due to the lentils, greens, and even the potatoes! Yes, potatoes do contain moderate amounts of bioavailable iron and studies show that due to their ascorbic acid content (vitamin C), they may enhance the iron absorption from a meal.
Iron is an essential mineral for many reasons. It’s responsible for making healthy red blood cells and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency affects your mind and body, making you feel tired, affecting your concentration and reducing your immune system’s ability to fight off infections. In young children, iron deficiency causes neurodevelopment and behavioural issues, and if not caught early enough can cause permanent damage.
Menstruating, pregnant and lactating women as well as growing children and adolescents are most at risk of iron deficiency, especially when following a strict plant based diet. It’s important to take extra care and effort to include plant based iron rich foods in your diet.
This soup is an excellent way to incorporate iron into your diet. You’re getting a whopping 14.5 mg of iron from the lentils alone, an additional 6 mg from the swiss chard and another 4 mg from the potato - that’s for the whole pot of course. Divide that into 6 servings and you’ve got roughly 4 mg of iron per serving which is about 20% of the daily requirement for a menstruating woman and 50% of the daily iron requirements for a toddler aged 1-3 years. That’s just rough math of course, and depending on your iron stores your iron needs may be different, but it goes to show you just how much iron you can get out of one bowl of soup - using only plants.
Very good sources of heme iron, with 3.5 milligrams or more per serving, include, 3 ounces of beef or chicken liver, 3 ounces of clams, mollusks, or mussels, 3 ounces of oysters
Not half bad for a bowl full of plants.
But, there’s a but. Non heme iron, from plants, is a lot less bioavailable than heme iron, from animal sources.
But, there’s another but…there are ways to make that pant based iron more bioavailable.
Here are some tips to make sure you maximize the non heme or plant based iron absorption from this soup:
Soak those lentils - Phytic acid, an ani-nutrient present in many plant based sources of iron, including lentils, inhibits the absorption of certain nutrients like iron, zinc, and calcium. Soaking the lentils overnight with an acid medium like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar is believed to neutralize the phytic acid content and improve iron absorption.
Add lots of lemon - The lemon in this meal goes a long way in aiding iron absorption, if it’s added in the very end. Traditionally it’s added straight to the pot in the last minutes of cooking, but since Vitamin C is extremely heat sensitive and is completely destroyed when heated above 70 C, I add it to each individual serving bowl instead. This also gives you more control over how much lemon to add based on personal preferences.
Lebanese Lentil SOup with Lemon, Chard & POtatoes
Servings: 6 Time: 35 minutes Difficulty: Easy
1 Cup Brown Lentils, Soaked overnight in ample water and 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
8 C Filtered Water
2-3 Medium Potatoes
1 Large Yellow Onion
1-2 Tsp Sea Salt
1-2 Tsp Sumac
300-350g of Swiss Chard, chopped (stems included)
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
1 Lemon, juiced
Extra lemon wedges & fresh ground pepper, to serve
Drain and rinse the soaked lentils really well until all residue is gone and water is clear.
Add rinsed lentils and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Skim any foam that forms off the top of the water and discard it.
Add diced potatoes, onion and chopped chard stems (save leaves for later) to the lentils and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, add salt and sumac and stir, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until potatoes and lentils are well cooked but not mushy.
Remove from heat and stir in chard leaves and season with fresh ground black pepper to taste. Adjust salt & sumac to taste.
Pour into serving bowls and stir in fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Serve with extra lemon wedges and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Zuppa libanese di lenticchie al limone con bietole e patate
Porzioni: 6 Tempo: 35 minuti Difficoltà: Facile
1 tazza di lenticchie marroni, ammollate per una notte con aceto di mele
8 tazze di acqua filtrata
2-3 patate medie
1 grande cipolla dorata
1-2 cucchiaini di sale marino
1-2 cucchiaini di Sumac
300-350 g di bietole o erbette, tagliate grossolanamente
Pepe macinato al momente, a piacere
Succo di limone, spremuto al momento
Spicchi di limone e pepe nero da macinare per servire
Mettere le lenticchie in ammollo per una notte o almeno 8 ore, in abondante acqua e 1 cucchiaino di aceto di mele.
Scolare e sciacquare le lenticchie molto bene finchè l'acqua è limpida.
Mettere le lenticchie sciacquate e l'acqua in una pentola e portare a ebollizione. Raschia la schiuma che si forma e scartala.
Aggiungere le patate lavate e tagliate (con la buccia) a dadini, la cipolla e i gambi di bietole/erbette tagliate (conservare le foglie per dopo) alle lenticchie e riportare ad ebollizione.
Ridurre il fuoco al minimo, aggiungere sale e sumac e mescolare bene.
Coprire e far sobbollire per 20-25 minuti fino a quando le patate e le lenticchie sono ben cotte ma non molli.
Togliere dal fuoco, aggiungere le foglie di bietole/erbette, condire con pepe nero macinato fresco a piacere e ricoprire per qualche minuto per far ammorbidire la foglia verde.
Regolare il sale e il sumac a piacere, versare nelle scodelle, poi aggiungered il succo di limone appena spremuto.
Servire con spicchi di limone extra e pepe nero macinato a piacere.