Thursday, September 30, 2010

Makhluta - Lebanese Lentil and Three-Bean Soup for MLLA 27


An extraordinarily hearty, traditional recipe from Lebanon, makhluta is a classic kitchen sink of a bean soup. If you are willing to swallow your pride by opening a few cans, this deeply comforting and filling meal can be prepared with such speed that it will be nearly ready by the time you've sipped the last of your preprandial cocktail after that shell-shocked day wherever it is that you work.

Of course, if you prefer the slow and satisfying ritual of soaking and simmering your dried legumes, you will not be disappointed with the relatively quick cooking method offered by Madelain Farah's recipe below, provided you remember to do your soaking the night before. And while you're at it, a good soaking the night before in a drawn bath does wonders for that shell-shocked day wherever it is that you work.

Makhluta - Adapted from the Beirut Restaurants recipe with additional inspiration from a recipe in Lebanese Cuisine by Madelain Farah (on page 32 in Google preview).

Serves 6 generously.


2 quarts richly flavored and moderately salted vegetable stock
1 cup brown rice (use quick-cooking for faster results)

1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 very large yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) ground cumin

2 cups cooked and drained lentils
2 cups cooked and drained chickpeas
2 cups cooked and drained black turtle beans
2 cups cooked and drained green lima beans

6 very large Swiss chard leaves, coarsely shredded (remove center ribs if very bulky)
3 cups water

Additional salt to taste


In your very largest pot, Dutch oven, or soup cauldron, heat stock to boiling. Add brown rice. Reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender (up to 45 minutes for regular brown rice; 10 minutes for quick-cooking kind).

In a medium saucepan, warm olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until translucent and golden without burning. Stir in cumin and heat a few more minutes to fragrance and flavor the onion and oil. Remove from heat and stir into stock with cooked rice. Stir in all legumes. Increase heat just to boiling, then reduce to a maintained simmer for 15 minutes.

In the same saucepan which you used for the oil and onion, heat 3 cups water to boiling. Add Swiss chard leaves, continuing to boil until they are limp (about 7 minutes). Stir leaves into legume mixture. If you find the soup too thick (dependent on how fast a simmer, how absorbent the rice, and how soft/starchy the legumes), add enough of the chard water to thin to your preference. Taste and adjust for salt. While wonderful fresh, this soup does reheat well, but will thicken considerably when chilled and idle, like a dense stew. Reconstitute with more water if preferred.


This is my contribution to MLLA 27, which just closed out and has been hosted by me. I expect to have the round-up and drawing results online sometime next week. Thank you very much for sharing your lovely recipes. Your hospitality is always appreciated.

Divya of Dil Se is now hosting MLLA 28. Divya has just returned from abroad and is refreshed and ready to receive your wonderful recipes.

Been There, Done That

Leblebi - Tunisian Chickpea Soup
Vegetarian Caldo Verde
African Peanut and Yam Soup

Other Peoples' Eats

Pomegranate Lentil Soup - Apartment Therapy - The Kitchn
Syrian Vegetarian Red Lentil Soup - Herbivoracious
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac - ecurry
Algerian Lentil Soup - 64 Sq. Ft. Kitchen
Soup Chick - All Things Soup - Lydia of The Perfect Pantry


  1. That is one delicious and healthy soup!



  2. so simple and so beautiful - I would gobble up a huge bowlful

  3. A delicous, hearty soup! Can never have enough of chickpeas and Co :-)

  4. Beautiful spoon in the top photo! (and the soup looks pretty darn good too...)

  5. Immediately my thought is: how will it taste with a different combination of legumes? The soups looks very consoling. I wonder how many bowls are needed to recover from a shell-shocked week. Among the many great smells one can enjoy in the kitchen, that of freshly ground toasted cumin seeds mixed with onion cooked in oil is one of the best, a very personal opinion, of course.

  6. Another beautiful legume dish. . . this looks like it would be the perfect warming recipe for our uncharacteristically frigid fall (which, unlike my workday, is what's left me shellshocked!). The lima beans are a great addition.

    And I can't believe I've missed yet another MLLA--have to get it together this month!

  7. Thanks for sharing this well balanced soup Susan.

  8. I love the bean medley! This looks like such a delicious soup. Gotoa love Middle Eastern cuisine. :)

  9. Susan, thank you so much for your kind and healing words! I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness...

    Ohhh my, your soup looks like the perfect way to restore one's soul and one's taste buds, too!

  10. this looks fantastic. found you thru flickr. love your blog!

  11. I've really been craving a hot bowl of vegetable bean soup with all the rain we've been getting recently. This looks great.

  12. this sounds very good, Susan (especially with all the cumin!). I will squeeze some lemon over it just before serving :D

  13. Supremely lovely bean soup! Love the new header, by the way.

  14. I love how many beans/legumes you squeezed into one bowl. That looks gorgeous and makes me sad that I have yet again failed to submit something, especially since beans play such a big role in my kitchen. I'm going to have to put the next one on my calendar.

  15. You have lovely timing, Susan! I was thinking I needed to find a recipe to use the bits of Swiss chard that we have growing (pathetically) in our garden, as the weather is getting a little too chilly at night now for them to survive much longer.

  16. Yum, this sounds like a healthy, delicious soup with grains, legumes and greens, my kind of soup! Thanks for the recipe!

  17. That is a lot of beans in one soup! It's good to see MLLA is still running strong.