A simply designed soup with very subtle and exquisite flavors; cumin, mint and sumac combined in a bowl with the red lentils makes a refreshing soup with very earthy flavors.
We have been loving the Ezo Gelin (Turkish Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup) at the Cafe Istanbul. The sesame topped crusty bread makes a perfect pair with the soup. This a uncomplicated version of the Ezo Gelin – there is no bulgur in this soup of mine. If I am not mistaken, the lentil soup is more commonly known as the Mercimek Corbasi in Turkey. Do correct me if I am wrong!
This soup is amazingly similar to the way the Indian lentils are cooked. A healthy, aromatic bowlful which also does fill in the cravings of the taste buds pretty well. Being of Indian origins we do use lentils a lot in our diet. I think I must have mentioned before that red lentils or masoor dal is one of my favorites. I love the color, I love the fact that this one cooks way faster than many of its siblings and growing up with eating this almost every day I cannot live without it.
Here is a recipe with my favorite red lentil complements any part of the meal; have it as a starter, or as a main meal with some nice warm bread and big salad. Light, healthy and satisfying.
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac
- 3 tablespoons butter/olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup red lentils, washed and picked over
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups water or stock, or more if the soup thickens too much
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1.5 tablespoons dried mint leaves, crumbled
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- salt to taste
- 1 carrot, chopped (optional – I have not used carrots in this soup)
Garnish: a few mint leaves (optional), sumac
To serve: lemon/lime wedges and bread
Heat the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onions (& carrots if you are using them) over low heat until they are light golden–about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin, the tomato paste, and hot pepper flakes; cover and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Add the lentils and salt and stir everything together so the tomato and the spices combine with the lentils. Add the water/stock and cover and cook till everything is mushy for about 30-40 minutes. OR use a pressure cooker and cook the lentils till they mushy. ( I always use pressure cooker to cook my lentils).
When the lentils are cooked, use a hand blender to blend the soup is to a smooth consistency, or leave it the way it is if you do not want it like a puree. Crumble the mint leaves and add into the soup. Stir and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat. Sprinkle some of the sumac (save the rest to garnish). Stir to combine.
Ladle into bowls, serving lemon wedges/or squeeze of lemon juice and some fresh mint leaves (if available) or crushed dried mint.
NOTE: This soup will thicken a lot as it stands. Loosen with some hot water and re heat, if you are not serving immediately.
The lentil soup is on its way to dear Susan’s MLLA 23, she is hosting is herself this time!