Armenian lentil, wheat, and spinach soup (Panjarabour), is a creamy, rich, comforting traditional Armenian soup.
Today’s recipe is a bit more special than my usual recipes. Panjarabour, or Armenian lentil, wheat, and spinach (or chard) soup, is truly one of my favorite foods ever. I was introduced to this soup by my grandmother, Gila (not her actual name, just what we call her), as a young adult. What a treat. This soup was SO MUCH BETTER than any lentil soup I had ever tasted. Creamy, rich, with bites of spinach thrown in. I couldn’t get enough. My husband, who I think was my boyfriend at the time, also couldn’t get enough. It was just. so. good. When I told Gila how much we loved it, she started really churning it out. It seemed like every few months she would load up our freezer with batches of soup, and we would eat it all.
At some point in the last year or so, it dawned on me: why don’t I just make the soup myself? I asked Gila for the recipe, and she obliged, but only after offering a million times to just cook it for me. Have I mentioned that Gila is the best? She really is.
What makes this soup so good? I’m sure the butter doesn’t hurt. Really, though, I think it tastes so good because of the hulled wheat (in Armenian, dzedzadz), which melts into the soup until it’s completely unrecognizable as a grain. I buy hulled wheat in a 1 lb bag at the Armenian store, and I’ve had some difficulty finding it online (or even finding information about it online). I think hulled wheat is actually spelt, but I can’t confirm for sure. It also closely resembles wheat berries. If you don’t have an Armenian store nearby, you could substitute spelt or soft wheat berries in this recipe. I haven’t done it myself, but I think it would work. Barley could be another option, though I’m not sure it will taste the same.
Creamy. Rich. Warm and comforting. Low calorie (240 calories for a meal-sized serving). Budget-friendly (a whole pot costs about $5 to make).
Please comment if you try this soup! I’d love to hear about any grain substitutions so I can better inform readers. *Friends, if you live near me and want me to accompany you to the Armenian store in Watertown so you can get these ingredients, I’d be happy to do so! Just drop me a line.*
Panjarabour: Armenian Lentil and Spinach Soup
Rich, hearty, soup with lentils, hulled wheat, and spinach or chard.
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 3/4 cup hulled wheat (see post for what to buy)
- 5 cup water, plus more if needed
- 5 tbsp salted butter
- 1/2 lb frozen spinach, thawed and drained, about 3/4 cup. (Can substitute 1/2 lb chopped fresh Swiss chard.
- salt and pepper to taste
- Aleppo pepper (optional garnish)
In a 6 qt or larger pot, add the onion, lentils, hulled wheat, water, and butter. Turn heat to medium, stir, and cover.
Stir every 5 minutes for about 40 minutes, then add spinach.
Continue stirring every 3-5 minutes until the wheat is tender, about another 20 minutes. If the soup is too thick (see photo for approximate texture), add more water, about 1/2 cup at a time.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in bowls, garnished with Aleppo pepper.
This soup freezes well. To freeze, cool the finished soup in the refrigerator. Place in quart sized freezer bags, and lie flat in the freezer.
Caloric information substituted spelt for hulled wheat, because hulled wheat information wasn't available.