In Syria, lentils play a large role in basic cooking. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare, and a good source of nutrition. It is a legend that the Jews in Sinai were given lentils by Moses to help them endure their long exodus from Egypt. Addes is a thick, golden soup spiced with garlic and cumin and served with fresh lemon wedges. It’s hearty, like pea soup, and will provide just the right source of energy to get you through a cold winter’s day.
Reprinted with permission from A Fistful of Lentils (Harvard Common Press).
2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour dissolved in 3 tablespoons cold water
Lemon wedges (1 to 2 per person)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
10 cups cold water
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic, to taste
2 1/2 cups dried split red lentils
Submerge the lentils in a medium-size bowl filled with cold water. Pick out small rocks and skim off any dirt or old shells that float to the surface. Drain.
Put the drained lentils in a 5-quart saucepan or kettle, add the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the salt and mix well. Continue to simmer until the soup becomes fairly thick, like pea soup, an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the garlic, cumin, and coriander.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat and add the garlic mixture. Brown the mixture until the garlic and oil turn into a yellow sauce, about 30 seconds (make sure not to cook the garlic over high heat; it burns easily). Remove from the heat and set aside.
Add the dissolved flour to the soup. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic mixture. (May be frozen for up to 1 month at this point or refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. When reheating, it may be necessary to add water, as the soup thickens upon cooling.)
Taste the soup for salt. Serve very hot accompanied by lemon wedges, which are squeezed, several drops at a time, into each spoonful of soup as it is eaten.