This is my version of a soup I loved to eat when I lived in Cairo. I'd get it at the university cafeteria along with a small bowl of deep-fried croutons.
2 cups red lentils
2 medium tomatoes
1 small onion
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili powder
7 cups chicken stock
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Plain yogurt, cilantro, for garnish
Tools: Heavy pot, stove
1. Finely dice onion. Fry it until golden in the olive oil, in a heavy-bottomed pot big enough to hold ten or eleven cups of soup.
2. Add the chili powder, and cook for about two minutes, until the onion is coated in spice and you can smell the chili powder.
3. Dice the tomatoes. Add them to the onion and chili and turn heat down to low.
4. Rinse the lentils carefully, checking for stones.
5. Add the lentils, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and chicken stock. Turn heat up to medium-high.
6. Cook until lentils have dissolved and it looks like soup – will take 20-30 minutes, but cook it as long as you want until it’s the right texture.
7. Just after you remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice.
8. Serve with a dollop of yogurt in the center of each bowl, and a spring of cilantro.