This soup is inspired by a Persian pomegranate and meatball soup. It is sweet and sour thanks to the pomegranate molasses; rice and lentils make it nice and thick; and it’s full of herbs. My vegetarian version includes a roasted eggplant as well.
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Pomegranate molasses is available at Middle Eastern and some kosher supermarkets, as well as specialty supermarkets such as Whole Foods.
2 large eggplants
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
8 cups vegetable stock or water
1/3 cup red split lentils
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
4 green onions, sliced
2 cups spinach
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Put eggplants on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, turning eggplants every 10 minutes until they are very soft and show no resistance when pressed with a finger. Cut open eggplants and put in a colander to drip, cut side down, until ready to serve.
2. Meanwhile, put olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes until tender and golden. Add vegetable stock, split lentils, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and turmeric, bring to boil and then reduce heat, cover pot and cook for about 10 minutes, until lentils are tender.
3. Add herbs, green onion and spinach to pot along with 3 teaspoons kosher salt. Mix and cook with lid on for another 5 minutes. Taste to adjust flavors. You can add more pomegranate molasses to increase sourness, or a little sugar if it’s too sour. Add more salt as needed. Remove from heat.
4. Spoon eggplant pulp into soup bowls, then pour soup on top. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top.