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Pilaf noodles (Recipe: lentil noodle soup)


For years, I didn't know the proper name for pilaf noodles.

I lived down the block from a wonderful Middle Eastern market, where the owner knew me from my days as a food writer for the local newspaper. Whenever I would ask for those noodles, he knew just what I meant.

And when Ted would go to the store, I'd write pilaf noodles on his shopping list.

It wasn't until many years later that the owner of another market taught me the Arabic name: chayreyé.

Lovely, I know, but I'm kind of sweet on the name pilaf noodles, and I guess I always will be.


I'll probably always be sweet on the noodles themselves, too: thin bits of wheat-and-egg, two inches long, delicate and adaptable to more than just pilaf.

Store noodles in a glass jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, and if you use a handful here and there, they'll last for years.

Lentil noodle soup (shurbat rushta)

Simple and healthy! Serves 6.


1 cup brown lentils
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
A pinch of cinnamon
1/4 preserved lemon rind, rinsed and chopped (optional)
1 cup pilaf noodles
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Agave nectar or honey, to taste
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped, or 1 scallion, sliced on the diagonal


Rinse the lentils and place in a 3-quart sauce pan with chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cook, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil and sauté the onion over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in a pinch of cinnamon, and add the onions to the lentils.

Add preserved lemon, noodles, salt and pepper, and cook, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until both lentils and noodles are done. (If needed, add more water, a few Tbsp at a time, to keep lentils from getting too thick.) Taste, adjust seasonings, and if you wish, add a small squirt of agave nectar or honey.

Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and/or scallion, and serve hot.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
One-of-everything lentil soup
Sweet potato, lentil and raisin stew
Lentils with spinach and preserved lemon
Vegetarian couscous with dried fruit
Riz imfalfal

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Another lovely recipe! Love those noodles and I've never heard of pilaf noodles.

I will have to try this recipe. Pilaf noodles sound extremely versatile and could be added to so many dishes. Thank you for sharing this.

i had no idea they were called pilaf noodles either. i've often used them for soups etc. great!

Lydia, the name is new to me, too. Tks! :)

Last night I made a salad with lentils, toasted flaked almonds and feta. It was delicious, but now I want to eat this soup too. :D

OOh, Pilaf noodles! I used to eat at a wonderful Lebanese deli that served rice mixed with chayreye as a side to its wonderful stews... I've tried to recreate the noodles with no success... Me thinks I need to add this to my pantry!

You're ahead of me. You may not have known the proper name but I never even heard of pilaf 'noodles'. Thanks for the introduction. Lovely soup.

Oh yummy. I love the noodle high...certainly oodles & oodles of noodles here! Never heard of these but they do sound YUM!!

Once again you introduce me to something I am not familiar with. I'll be on the look out.

I don't think I've ever seen pilaf noodles. I like this combination with lentils, since lentils always seem heavy to me and this looks light.

I've never heard of them; I assume they're finer than spaghetti noodles. I wonder if I could substitute them if I can't find the real thing?

I have never heard of pilaf noodles - I want some! I am a noodle gal, they are my favourite. This would be a perfect recipe for you-know-who!

Don't think I know these. But the idea looks lovely, heck I'm pretty much going to be happy when lentils are in it.

Lentils have become one of my favorite go-to for a quick supper on a bad day - makes soup, salads, vegetarian meal - can't beat it for ease and taste. Never have tried pilaf noodles or even heard the term, but when I get out will look for them. Thanks.

Patricia, your salad sounds great. The toasted almonds would add such a nice crunch!

Sandra, they're much thinner than spaghetti, but you can use them in place of angel hair pasta in many dishes.


I love the noodles series. Are you going to attempt a Malaysian noodle dish? Mee goreng? Char kuey teow? What Malaysian noodles you like. :)

This is such a lovely recipe. Where did you pull the name pilaf noodles from? Is that the actual, common name for chayreyé, or just a term you coined? I ask because if I go shopping for these noodles, I don't know if I'm to look for pilaf or chayreyé. Thanks in advance.

RM, I've posted my recipe for mee goreng, which I think is my favorite noodle dish of all time. I do love Malaysian food -- and often go to your blog to look for recipes!

Sandie, I call them pilaf noodles because so many Middle Eastern recipes for rice pilaf include these noodles, toasted and cooked with the rice. If you are in a Middle Eastern market and ask for noodles for rice pilaf, they will know exactly what you mean. I've also seen them labeled as Angel Hair noodles, especially when they are made in France or Morocco.

This soup sounds nice and healthy and good. I like the pinch of cinnamon in it.

Lydia, I just went to the Arabic market in search of these noodles... and wrote down the name so when I got there, I'd know what to ask for. At my market, they were simply labeled vermicelli. Apparently, though, it said "chayreye" in Arabic.

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