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Mother’s Turkish Yoghurt and Meatballs Soup– Annemin Kofteli Yogurtlu Corbasi

This is lovely and comforting soup that appears a lot on our table. You can easily have it as a substantial lunch or for a light dinner on cold winter days. Children also love it – especially the little meatballs. Yoghurt gives a creamy texture and makes it a healthy choice too. Yoghurt features a lot in Turkish cooking, thanks to our Nomadic past. It is rich in calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B and carries good bacteria that supports the immune system and helps indigestion; just what we need with cold winter days coming up.
This soup is also a great example of how we use spices to flavor the dishes; the dried mint and the red pepper flakes work magically and bring a refreshing and lovely spicy (moderate) flavor. This soup can be cooked ahead of time and freezes well.

Serves 8 – 10 generously

Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 40 minutes

For the mini meatballs:
225gr/8oz ground beef or lamb
110gr/4oz long grain rice, washed and rinsed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
90ml/4 tablespoons flour (placed on a tray)
Bowl of water to wet the hands to make the meatballs

For the yoghurt sauce:
1.75lt/3 pints/7 ½ cups hot water (you can also use any stock of your choice)
15 ml/1 tablespoon mild olive oil
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten well
1lt/1 ¾ pints /4cups plain whole milk yoghurt (brand Fage works well)
4 fl oz/ ½ cup hot water
1/2 tablespoon dried mint
11/2 teaspoon (or more!) red pepper flakes
Drizzle of olive oil to serve

Combine the rice, ground meat, salt and ground black pepper, and mix well. Wet your hands and shape the mixture as little meatballs of 1/2″ diameter. Place the meatballs in the tray with flour on. After putting every 6-7 meatballs, shake the tray in a way to coat the meatballs with flour. That will prevent them from sticking to each other and falling apart.

Boil the water in a saucepan; add the olive oil and the salt. Once the water boils, place the meatballs gently into the water – a couple at a time – . Stir gently so that they won’t stick together and simmer for 15 minutes.

Place the remaining flour in the tray in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and egg, and whisk well. Add the hot water from the saucepan to the bowl and stir gently. That will help the egg “not to cook” in the soup and adjust to the mixture. Now stir the contents of the bowl into the saucepan slowly, while mixing continuously. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Once cooked, turn the heat off, add the olive oil, dried mint and red pepper flakes, and mix well. Serve warm.

Note: You can also add any vegetable of your choice to this soup; diced carrots, peas or broccoli work well.

Afiyet Olsun!

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Tomato and Vegetable Soup with Orzo – Sebzeli Seriye Corbasi

This comforting, healthy vegetable soup gets ready in minutes and it is one of my favourites. Soup is an important part of Turkish cuisine and it is served as the first course at meals. In rural parts of Turkey, it is also common to have soup for a substantial breakfast.

As a variety, you can add croutons and some grated cheese over this soup when serving. I also like to add some coarsely sliced avocado in mine. With a squeeze of lemon over the top and little red pepper flakes, it does warm your heart and soul, and makes a wonderful lunch or light dinner.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes
60gr/ 1/3 cup orzo
1.2lt/2pints/5 cups of water (or vegetable or chicken stock if you like)
30ml/2tablespoons olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes and wedges of lemon to serve

In a heavy medium sized saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook gently for about 2 minutes, until it is softened. Add the carrots and can of chopped tomatoes, mix well. Add the stock, season with salt and pepper and bring the liquid to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Then add orzo and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the chopped parsley, check the seasoning and turn the heat off. Serve hot with sprinkle of red pepper flakes over the soup and wedges of lemon and nice crusty bread by the side.

Afiyet Olsun! (means “May you be healthy and happy with the food you eat”)

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Ezo Gelin Corba; Turkish Spicy Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup

Ezo Gelin Corbasi; Spicy Turkish lentil & bulgur soup with dried mint and red pepper flakes; wholesome and delicious

Ezo Gelin Corbasi; Spicy Turkish lentil & bulgur soup with dried mint and red pepper flakes; wholesome and delicious

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.

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

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.

Serves 6
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

To Serve:
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.

Ezo Gelin Corba; Spicy lentil and bulgur soup; image from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table by Sian Irvine Photography

Afiyet Olsun,


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