Armjanskij sup chechevicy, or lentil soup with dried apricots (Armenia)

Armenia is a small landlocked country located in the Caucasus that used to be a part of the Soviet Union. It is usually considered to be a part of Asia, but sometimes counted in Europe as well (e.g. Wikipedia lists it as a “bicontinental country” and it is also a member of the Council of Europe). The pride of Armenians is Mount Ararat, even though it is nowadays located in Turkey.

Armenian food is somewhat similar to Middle Eastern, using both fresh and dried fruit and nuts (especially walnuts), some herbs and spices, tahini, rose water and orange blossom water. Armenians eat a lot of lamb, but there are also several interesting dishes, especially soups, that are vegan or could be easily adapted to be. Yoghurt, tomato sauce, pickles, greens, eggplant, bulgur wheat, chickpeas and lentils are also popular. Armenians like soups, skewers and hearty salads. They have a particular fondness for stuffing food, from fish to onions.

This unusual lentil soup recipe instantly got me interested, being a big fan of eggplant and dried apricots. Sadly, neither is really that discernible in the final soup – the eggplant kind of dissolves and it seems like most of the flavour from the dried apricots leeches into the broth (but they aren’t enough to really flavour it that much). It’s a good, hearty soup, but nothing really special. Perhaps upping the amount of herbs would make it more flavourful.

Armjanskij sup chechevicy

Armjanskij sup chechevicy

350 g/0.75 lbs eggplant, peeled and cubed
150 g/0.3 lbs green bell pepper, diced
150 g/0.3 lbs onions, chopped
75 g/2.5 oz carrots, sliced
75 g/2.5 oz celery, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp oil
1.5 l/6 cups vegetable stock
210 g /7.5 oz lentils
210 g/7.5 oz tomatoes, chopped
120 g/4 oz dried apricots, sliced
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp salt
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Fry the vegetables in the oil until soft and slightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add all the other ingredients except for the fresh herbs. Bring to boil and lower the heat. Simmer for 35-45 minutes, until the lentils are done to your liking. Stir in the fresh herbs and serve hot. Makes 6-8 portions.

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