How to Prepare Ads Bi Dersa (Spicy Tomato And Lentil Soup)

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Algerians are very fond of Ads bi dersa because this lentil soup is highly spicy and also ideal for vegans and non-vegans alike. We cook it as a main course because it is extremely filling and it is ideal in winter too. The use of lentils is a very old tradition going back thousands of years. The sauce base is also  based nowadays on tomato with some chili but the original would never have had these and instead would use Middle Eastern and even some Indian spices.

Most omnivores would add butter but not meat to help thicken the soup. Mop up the remaining juices with any bread. I like it when it’s a day old as being slightly stale helps with soaking up that juice.

Serves 4 

Preparation time: 10 minutes; Cooking time:  1 hour


  • 500g of lentils, soaked before hand.
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil – use sunflower oil but olive oil will also work well
  • 1 large white/yellow onion – finely sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of thyme
  • 1 tbsp parsley including stalks – chopped finely
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • 50g of butter (non-vegan) or vegan butter (vegan)
  • 2 plum tomatoes – chopped and peeled
  • 1 large red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 150g of gruyere (optional). Use a vegan cheese for additional flavour – shred.
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a skillet or frying pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the sliced onions with the butter to soften for 3 minutes. Stir.
  3. Add the wine and stock and let it simmer gently. Allow the volume to reduce to almost half.
  4. Add the tomatoes along with all the spices and herbs and soaked lentils and cook for an hour.
  5. Season to taste
  6. The gruyere is shredded and added to the top of the dish. It can be placed under a medium-hot grill to melt further.
  7. Serve with wholemeal bread or pieces from a baguette stick. Slightly stale croutons would be good!
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