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Hearty Turkish Red Lentil Soup – Kirmizi Mercimek Corbasi

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.

Signed copies of  Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book, available to order at this link

This delicious soup and many more wholesome Turkish recipes along my stories from my homeland is included at my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland,  Signed copies available to order at this link.

Serves 6
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.

Mercimek Corbasi; Turkish red lentil soup

Mercimek Corbasi; Turkish red lentil soup

Afiyet Olsun,


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18 Responses to Hearty Turkish Red Lentil Soup – Kirmizi Mercimek Corbasi

  1. Erica (Irene) December 12, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    I make this soup for my Husband Dogan almost weekly, it's his favourite.
    I'm so glad that I found your Blog and will now be a follower. You have some great Turkish recipes.
    I've been going to Izmir for over 20 years now and just love it there.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ozlem's Turkish Table December 13, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    Merhaba Erica:)
    I am delighted to get your comment, so nice to be able to connect with food lovers. This soup is one of our favorites too. We love going to Izmir too, and love the Agean cuisine. I hope the recipes in the blog inspires you, best wishes for Christmas and New Year! Ozlem

  3. Ozlem's Turkish Table December 13, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    This lentil soup, mercimek corbasi, is literally served all day at home too, especially in Anatolia, and makes a great hearty breakfast! Many thanks for sharing your experience, we have so much in common with Greek friends in terms of food and culture and it is lovely to hear experiences. Afiyet Olsun:) Ozlem

  4. Ozlem's Turkish Table December 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Merhaba:) you are most welcome, I am very glad the recipe worked and it is a joy to share these recipes:) Best wishes, Ozlem

  5. Kerry December 6, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Ozlem we just had this soup for lunch was lovely and perfect for the cold weather we have just now. It was also very quick to prepare and full of flavour just perfect. Kerry 🙂

    • Ozlem December 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Merhaba Kerry, so glad you enjoyed the Yayla corba! It is my to go soup too; easy to prep and packed with flavor 🙂

  6. özge December 6, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    dear özlem…this soup actually become more delicious if we add flour that scorched with some butter.

    • Ozlem December 7, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      Merhabalar Sevgili Ozge,
      Cok tesekkurler commentin icin, bir dahaki sefere una tereyagi ile deneyegim, sagolasin 🙂

  7. özge December 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    or i think so:)

  8. Julie March 21, 2016 at 4:23 pm #


    Love the sound of your soup recipe. Where do you buy red pepper flakes in England? Thanks,


    • Ozlem Warren March 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

      Merhaba Julie,

      Most supermarkets carry that, you can also replace with chili flakes, I hope you enjoy the soup, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  9. Suzette Nguyen January 30, 2019 at 3:07 am #

    Just finished making this soup – delicious and again, so quick and easy to put together, Ozlem! Thank you! I’m really enjoying your recipes and strongly considering purchasing your cookbook, it looks beautiful. Cheers!

    • Ozlem Warren January 30, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

      Merhaba dear Suzette, so delighted to hear you are enjoying my recipes here – I love this hearty lentil soup too : )

      And thank you for your kind interest for my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table – it is a special book with over 90 authentic recipes like this one, with easy to follow instructions, great photography and personal stories – and it is signed copies at this link, until the stocks last –

      many thanks and Afiyet Olsun,


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