Soups have a special place in Turkish cuisine and the meals mostly start with them. In Anatolia, it is very common to have soup to start the day, especially in winter. This spicy lentil soup is one of my favorites; rich in fiber and protein, very delicious and easy to make. It is also a great example of how we add flavor to our dishes thru spices. Named after the bride “Ezo” who managed to impress her in-laws with this heartwarming soup, this soup is so delicious and simple to make that you will want to make it all the time! It also freezes very well, so I recommend to make a big batch and freeze some for a heart and soul warming lunch or supper.
Note: Red pepper paste, biber salcasi, adds a wonderful, rich flavour to the soup. You can make your own red pepper paste, biber salcasi, with my recipe here. If you prefer not to use red pepper paste, you can increase the amount of tomato paste to 5 tablespoons and the pul biber or red pepper flakes to 3 teaspoons or even more, depending on how spicy you would like.
Ezo Gelin Corba and many other hearty soups and authentic, wholesome Turkish recipes are included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland, Signed copies are now 25 % OFF at this link , for a limited time and delivered worldwide including the US and Canada.
Preparation time – 15 minutes Cooking time – 40 minutes
290 gr/1 cup split red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 onion, finely chopped
45 ml / 3 tablespoons coarse bulgur wheat, rinsed and drained
1.75 litres / 7 1/2 cups water
60 ml / 4 tablespoons tomato paste
15ml/ 1 tablespoon Turkish hot red pepper paste, biber salcasi
30ml /2 tablespoons olive oil
15ml/1 tablespoon dried mint
Juice of 1 lemon
15 ml / 1 tablespoon dried mint
10 ml / 2 teaspoon pul biber, red pepper flakes / paprika flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges to serve
Heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium-sized pot and stir in the onions. Cook over a medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring often, this will soften the onions. Add the lentils and the water. Cover and bring the pot to the boil. Cook over a medium to low heat for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the bulgur, tomato paste, red pepper paste and dried mint, season with salt and ground black pepper. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes, until the bulgur is cooked. Add some more water if the soup appears to be too thick. Pour in the lemon juice and mix well.
To serve, pour in 15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pan and stir in the dried mint and red pepper flakes. Stir and gently cook over a low heat for a minute. Pour in this sauce into the soup and combine well.
Serve hot with lemon wedges by the side.