Hearty Soup, Biblical Style

Stay warm and full with this classic dish, a helping of lentils in every bite.

Online Jewish Week Columnist
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It's one of the most ancient recipes in the world. The Torah tells how Esau returned from hunting in the fields, starving. He finds his brother Jacob cooking a pot of red lentil stew. Esau is so hungry, he agrees to give up his birthright in exchange for some soup.

Now, I wouldn't say this soup is quite worth giving up your right to your family's inheritance, but it is pretty tasty. With a rich tomato base and a hearty helping of lentils in every bite, this is the perfect dinner for a cold snowy night. While it's tasty just like this, this is also a great base recipe to create your own variations: stir in some shredded chicken, spice it up with chili pepper flakes or throw some rice into the mix (you'll have to up the water content). Let your imagination go wild!

Amy Spiro is a journalist and writer based in Jerusalem. She is a graduate of the Jerusalem Culinary Institute's baking and pastry track, a regular writer for The Jerusalem Post and blogs at bakingandmistaking.com. She also holds a BA in Journalism and Politics from NYU.

2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups green or black lentils
1 cup (8 ounces) tomato paste
5-6 cups vegetable stock or water
Recipe Steps: 
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to coat. Let cook five minutes, until the onions are just translucent.
Add the pepper, cumin, turmeric, paprika and salt and stir to coat the onions in the spice mixture. Continue to cook, stirring regularly, another five or so minutes, until the spices are aromatic.
Add in the diced garlic and lentils and stir to mix evenly, then add the tomato paste and stir to coat. Add the stock or water and mix to combine.
Bring the soup to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook 30-40 minutes until the lentils are just done.

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