Kurdish Hot-and-Spicy Red-Lentil Soup

Ramadan’s monthlong sunrise-to-sunset fast in honor of the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an is broken each day by the evening meal known as iftar. This soup is one dish traditionally served at iftar. This recipe for a Ramadan soup is adapted from Paula Wolfert’s definitive The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (HarperCollins, 1994).


1 cup red lentils
1/3 cup skinned wheat berries or white rice
1/4 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1 cup each chopped onion, chopped celery, and chopped carrot
2 green Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into small pieces
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 or 2 whole, dried, hot red peppers
salt, to taste


Combine the lentils, wheat berries, chickpeas, and 2 quarts of water in a large pot. Cover, bring to a boil, and skim carefully. Add the vegetables, tomato paste, and hot peppers. Cook, covered, for 1 hour. Add the salt and cook 30 minutes longer, or until the chickpeas are fully cooked. Serves 6.

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