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Carol's Armenian Lentil Soup

Originally from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by the Moosewood Collective; adapted by my sister Carol. 
The original recipe calls for eggplant, but Carol abhors eggplant in all forms, so she substitutes some carrots plus extra peppers.  This is her version.

1 1/2 C dried lentils
6 C vegetable stock (if you must substitute water, you'll notice the difference, but still will have a tasty soup)

1/2 C dried apricots, chopped

2 T oil
1 large or two small onions, chopped

2-3 large carrots, diced

1 1/2-2 C chopped tomatoes (canned are fine)
1 bell pepper, chopped (feel free to add more, especially if you have ripe red sweet peppers, or use peppers of your choice)
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t allspice (optional; ok to use 1/2 t cinnamon and no allspice instead)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T paprika
1 1/2 t salt

3 T fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 T fresh mint, chopped fine

Pick over and rinse the lentils.  Bring to a boil in the stock, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Add the chopped apricots and simmer another 20 minutes. 

While the lentils are simmering, saute the onions until translucent in a separate pan.  Add the carrots and saute some more.  Add the tomatoes, pepper(s), spices and salt.  Simmer until the carrots are just becoming tender.

When the lentils and apricots have simmered for 20 minutes together, add the vegetable saute.  (If you add it too early, the acid from the tomatoes and the salt may toughen the lentils.)  Simmer together 15 minutes to merge the flavors.  Correct the seasonings to taste, stir in the parsley and mint, and serve.

Note: the original version calls for 2-3 C chopped eggplants, no carrots, 1 1/2 C tomatoes, and one green pepper.

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