Because of their rich protein content, lentils have been a valuable food source in Asia Minor since Neolithic times. This soup is most probably Turkey’s most popular soup, enjoyed not only for lunch and dinner but also for a hearty breakfast in Anatolia.
I like to add carrots and potatoes to this easy, delicious and nutritious soup. The lovely colours of red lentils, carrots and potatoes bring an array of sunshine to any cold winter day! The addition of cumin and red pepper flakes add a wonderful, energising flavour, as we do in Southern Turkish cooking. I recommend you to make a big batch and freeze some, as it freezes really well.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes
250gr/9oz/generous 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
15ml/1tablespoon long grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot cut in small cubes
1 medium potato, peeled and cut in small cubes
1.2lt/2 pints/5 cups hot water
15ml/ 1 tablespoon olive oil
15ml/1 tablespoon butter
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra wedge of lemon, paprika flakes (and if you’d like) croutons to serve
Put the olive oil, lentils, rice, onion, carrot, potato and hot water in a large heavy pan. Bring to boil and skim off any froth. Over a medium heat, simmer for about 35 minutes or until the lentils, rice and the vegetables cooked. Please stir occasionally to ensure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once cooked, add the lemon juice, butter, cumin and red pepper flakes. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to your taste, mix well. Serve hot with a wedge o lemon for extra zing and red pepper flakes sprinkled over. Some nice crusty bread by the side or croutons over the soup would go very well.
You can cook this wonderful soup ahead of time and freeze some if you’d like.