Mediterranean Kitchen Lentil Soup
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped into a medium dice
1/2 red pepper, chopped into a small dice
2 and 1/2 cups green/brown lentils
6 cups water
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspooon cinnamon
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cloves garlic, pressed and mixed with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice
Optional: cooked rice
Garnish: 4-6 whole cilantro leaves; grated Monterey jack cheese, passed separately for people to serve themselves
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven, then stir in the onion and sauté until it begins to brown.
Stir in the red pepper and sauté two more minutes. Stir in the lentils, coating with the oil, then pour in the water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.
Stir in the allspice, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and black pepper, re-cover, and cook for 20 more minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the garlic blend.
If you don't want to press the garlic, you can always puree it with the oil and water in a blender.
When you are ready to serve, and after at least 20 minutes have passed, stir in the chopped cilantro. Turn off the heat, stir in the garlic blend, and cover, letting the flavors steep for a minute or two.
Stir in the lemon juice, check the seasoning, and get ready to serve.
You may serve over rice or just ladle into bowls as is, garnishing each with a cilantro leaf.
Pass a bowl of grated Monterey jack for guests to add to their own taste.