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Turkish Red Lentil Soup: Mercimek Çorbası

If you’re looking to whip up a quick and nutritious meal, I’ve got something for you to try. If you’ve ever ate at a Turkish restaurant, you’ve likely seen this on the menu. And every Turkish household has a slightly different variation on how to make it. I’m talking about red lentil soup, aka, mercimek çorbası.

The version I’m going to give you is a blend of what I’ve learned from my mother-in-law and my husband. If you have dietary restrictions, it is gluten-free and can be made vegan by using vegetable broth or even just using all water and adding a little extra salt. 

This recipe is very easy to make and uses just a few ingredients. Take the following items and place them all into a medium-sized pot:

  • 1 cup red lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 small carrot chopped (This can add a sweet taste to the soup. If you don’t like mixing sweet with savory then substitute with 1 small potato, grated.)
  • 3 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper paste (optional – you can find this at most Mediterranean grocery stores)
  • 1-2 tablespoons your preferred cooking oil
  • 3 teaspoons mint
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Bring to a boil before reducing heat to medium-low and cook for another 20 minutes. Next, use a hand-immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. If it looks too thick, add more water. 

Bring to a boil before reducing heat to medium-low and cook for another 20 minutes. Next, use a hand-immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. If it looks too thick, add more water. 

The next step is optional but adds much more dimension to the flavor of the soup. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan (your preferred cooking oil). When hot, add 3 teaspoons of dried mint and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and let it sizzle for about 10 seconds before garnishing the soup. (Warning, the hot oil will make a loud sound and may splash a little bit when you pour it in. Do it slowly, and when it stops dripping you don’t have to scrape the remnants of mint and pepper. Just add a ladle full of soup into the pan, mix it around and pour it all back into the soup.)

Before eating, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or serve with a lemon wedge. My husband loves to dip bread into the soup, while I like it as is. My kids love this soup as well, even when they are going through their most picky phases!

I hope you enjoy. 

 

Turkish Red Lentil Soup: Mercimek Çorbası

Small Bites Mediterranean
By Janice Yucel Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 25 Minutes Total Time: 35 Minutes

Perfect as an appetizer or light meal, this nutritious Turkish soup is easy to make and uses just a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 1 small carrot chopped/1 small potato,grated
  • 3 cups broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper paste (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons your preferred cooking oil
  • 3 teaspoons mint
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

Instructions

1

Put all ingredients into a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil before reducing heat to medium-low and cook for another 20 minutes. Next, use a hand-immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. If it looks too thick, add more water. 

2

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. When hot, add 3 teaspoons of dried mint and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper and let it sizzle for about 10 seconds before garnishing the soup. (Warning, the hot oil will make a loud sound and may splash a little bit when you pour it in. Do it slowly, and when it stops dripping you don’t have to scrape the remnants of mint and pepper. Just add a ladle full of soup into the pan, mix it around and pour it all back into the soup.)

3

Serve with a lemon wedge.

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