October is here meaning “sweater weather” is coming. With colder days, we need warmer food and what better way to bring the coziness than a hot bowl of soup.
Tunisia’s lentil soup – also called “Tbikha”- is the go-to dish for cold days. This soup appears only in cold months and disappears for the rest of the year. Each household cooks it differently which I believe adds to the uniqueness of the dish.
Nonetheless, the basic ingredients remain the same: lentils, onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, and “Bichmat” which consists of dried bread slices that are the topping for this dish. I’ve tried many different kinds, but this recipe remains my favorite!
The traditional way to make this soup is by using tomato paste. I changed this with fresh tomatoes to make it a bit healthier. I also made the dried bread from a leftover whole wheat baguette and added a ton of garlic & thyme for extra flavor.
Lentils are often overlooked when it comes to cuisine, even though they are packed with important nutrients. Lentils are very high in protein, iron, folate, and fiber. Protein is important for cell growth, iron & folate are crucial for hemoglobin synthesis (blood production), and fiber is good for the gut and digestion.
Wonderful flavor, great health benefits… what else could you ask for?
Tunisia’s Lentil Soup — INGREDIENTS:
- 1 medium onion
- 1 cup of orange/red lentils
- 1 tomato
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp coriander & caraway
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 medium potato
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Water (amount depends on the consistency you like)
- Parsley (optional for garnish)
For the “Bichmat”:
- 1/2 whole wheat baguette
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tbsp of olive oil
RECIPE: (serves 4)
For the Soup:
- Dice the onions and tomato and place in a pot. Rinse and drain the lentils, crush the garlic cloves and add to the pot. Place on medium heat and add the oil.
- Slowly keep adding water and stir all the ingredients together. Once the onions, tomatoes, and lentils are cooked halfway down, add the spices and enough water to cover the lentils. Cover and let simmer for 30 min or until lentils are fully cooked. Before the soup is cooked, add the diced potatoes and let simmer for another 15 min.
- Once everything is cooked, blend the soup. Serve hot and top with chopped parley, a dash of chili flakes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
For the “Bichmat”:
- Preheat oven to 175 C. Slice the baguette diagonally into 1 cm thick slices. Place on a baking tray.
- In a small bowl, mix the garlic, thyme, and olive oil. Brush the mixture on top of each slice of bread.
- Put in the oven until golden on both sides.
This article is part of the #TasteTunisia initiative launched by Carthage Magazine. In search of Tunisian cuisine, through a series of articles/videos, Carthage Magazine offers a window to the Tunisian food, recipes and how they are prepared.
The Taste Tunisia initiative is supported by Carthage Magazine and led by international registered dietitians-nutritionists from Tunisia, making it the ultimate initiative that celebrates and promotes Tunisian cuisine.
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