1. In a 3- to 4-quart pot, combine the
lentils and water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, uncovered,
until tender, about 20 minutes or so, stirring a few times.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat
the olive oil over medium-high heat and fry the sliced onions until
well browned, at least 15 minutes, tossing frequently.
3. In a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic
with the coarse salt until the mixture is a paste. Alternately,
use a garlic press to mash the garlic; then, in a small bowl and
using the back of a spoon, mash the garlic a few seconds longer
with the salt.
4. Add the coriander or parsley and mash
5. When the lentils are just tender, stir
the garlic and herb mixture into the onions and saute 1 minute.
6. Add some of the lentil liquid to the
garlic and herb mixture, scraping the pan to deglaze it.
7. Scrape the mixture in the skillet into
the remaining lentils, stir and cook 2 more minutes.
8. Add the mint and boil 1 minute longer.
Taste and correct salt and pepper.
9. Serve immediately, piping hot, in flat
Advance Preparation: Do not make ahead. If left to stand,
the noodles get too soft, and you will have to add more water to
bring back the lentils to soupy consistency. Plus, when you keep
the soup for more than a couple of hours, even without the noodles,
the garlic and herb flavors diminish, and the soup has to be re-seasoned.
If there are leftovers, they can be kept refrigerated for up to
a week; reheat gently and re-season, using more chopped coriander,
dried mint and raw garlic.