If you don’t know anything about saffron, know this, it is hands-down one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. Saffron is grown in many regions of the world and is harvested during the autumn. I purchased my Saffron from Costco for about $15.00. I am not sure of the exact weight since I already throughout the packaging, but it is a little more than one tablespoon worth. I understand this ingredient might tip the budget for some of you. Feel free to it out of the recipe if it something you don’t have handy. For everyone else looking to experiment with new ingredients, I hope you enjoy the fragrant addition!
The inspiration for this soup actually came from a traditional Greek Lemon Chicken soup. I had this at many Greek restaurants in Detroit, MI. But instead of chicken I wanted to make a vegetarian version using lentils and a touch of saffron to dress it up.
1 Large onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
2T. Olive oil
½ tsp. turmeric
Pinch of salt
Fresh cracked pepper
40 ounces of water, plus enough bullion cubes or use a stock
2 bay leaves
2 ½ cups green lentils
Big pinch of crushed red pepper
1T dried parsley
¼ – ½ tsp zest
Juice from 2 lemons
- Chop one large onion and 5 cloves of garlic. Using a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, and sauté the onions first for about five min, and then add the garlic. Cook for two more minutes or until fully cooked and turning slightly golden brown.
- Add the turmeric, a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper and stir to incorporate.
- Read the directions according to the stock or bullion cubes you are using. There are many brands out there and everyone prefers something different. I used about 40oz of water, plus enough bullion cubes to give a rich chicken broth flavor. Adjust your ratio to your taste.
- Add the bay leaves, and green lentils. Rinse the lentils according to the packaging directions and cook accordingly. There are also many types of lentils available. Add a big pinch of red pepper if you like spicy. This is optional; adjust according to your taste. Add the parsley, dry or fresh works here. Continue cooking 30-60min depending on your lentils. You will want them to become al dente or then even softer. I prefer very soft lentils.
- When the soup is getting close to finished, zest the lemons, and then juice them. Be sure to catch any seeds. Continue to cook for 10 more minutes.
- I add the saffron last, directly to the bowl I am serving. The saffron flavor is very light and fresh. If you add the saffron directly to soup pot, it will probably become over powered by the strong acid flavor of the lemons.