Christine Datian’s Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur

Christine Datian and I have been email-buddies for several
years, sharing family recipes and kitchen secrets with one another.
Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur

Even though I’ve posted numerous lentil soup recipes, my
feeling is that one can never have too many. So when
Christine sent me her version of Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur, not only was she was eager for me to post it, I
was anxious to try it myself. (I wanted to compare it with my own recipe.) The soup is loaded with healthy ingredients, and offers
a ‘kick’ from the cayenne pepper, Tabasco, and red pepper flakes. (Warning: If you don’t
like your foods spicy, ease up on – or eliminate – the spicy ingredients.)

Christine included the following recipe pointers:
“The secret is to cook this lentil soup on low to medium
low for at least two hours, no less, and to use a hand blender at the very end,
when the soup is done; take it off the stove, blend it for about one minute or
more, return to the stove, add the spinach and parsley (optional), and cook for
five minutes longer. “This soup really is best served the next day.”, John
(Christine’s husband) says.
I always use beef broth (lamb broth if you have it). My
mother said she adds some lamb chops or lamb shoulder meat to the soup when she
has time. First, she would boil the lamb meat to get the fat out of it, rinse,
then add to the soup. I add the diced baking potato (or a few small diced red
potatoes) along with the bulgur for flavor and thickening.”

Robyn’s suggestion: Don’t be intimidated by a recipe
with a long ingredient list. In order to prepare such a recipe successfully,
always gather the necessary ingredients and tools in advance. The culinary term
is ‘mise en place’.

We hope you’ll enjoy it!


While you’re at it, why not check out some of Christine’s
other recipes that have appeared on this site: ‘Bulgur Pilaf with Onions and TomatoJuice’, ‘Red Lentil Soup’, ‘Lamb and Eggplant Meatball Pita Sandwiches’, ‘Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta’, ‘Spicy Southwestern Tabbouleh’, ‘Potato and Lamb Moussaka’.

Christine Datian’s Armenian Lentil Soup with Bulgur

1 pound dried lentil beans, picked through and rinsed
6 cups water
4 cups beef broth
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 large onion, diced or chopped
3-4 medium carrots, diced or chopped
3-4 stalks celery, diced or chopped (including top
1 medium baking potato, diced
1/2 cup medium or fine bulgur (for thickening)
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon each dried basil and cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper (more to taste)
½ teaspoon fresh or dried mint
Dash of Tabasco, onion salt, and cayenne pepper
Paprika and red pepper flakes to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, about 1/3 cup (use at the end)
Chopped fresh spinach, about 1/2 bunch, washed (use at
end, optional)


In a large soup pot, bring all ingredients to a full
boil, stir, cover, and reduce to medium low and cook for 2 hours; check and
stir occasionally so soup does not stick; before serving, use a hand blender to
blend soup for a minute, so it thickens more, if desired; check seasonings and
add more salt and pepper, if desired. 

Use an immersion blender to slightly
puree the soup. Stir in fresh parsley and/or spinach and cook for a few minutes
longer before serving.  Serves 6-8.

What I did differently when making Christine’s
1. Used 2 cups of green lentils and 1/3 cup of #1 (fine)
2. Increased the amount of stewed tomatoes to 1 – 14.5
oz. can, then added 2 Tbsp. of red pepper paste instead of using the tomato
paste and tomato sauce.
3. Omitted potato and parsley because I didn’t have any
on hand.
4. Toned down the heat by only using 1/4 tsp. each of cayenne
pepper, and Aleppo red pepper.
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  1. Unknown December 13, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    My mother's kitchen ca.1920s wouldn't have had all those ingredients. I was taught to make "vospov shorva" with water, lentils (vosp), and bulghur in the mid 50s. It was finished off with "sorkhantz". Caramelized diced onion. Amazing how wonderful the combo of those very simple ingredients could taste.


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