• Kırmızı Mercİmek Çorbası •
Smooth, spicy, and nutritious, Turkish Red Lentil Soup is simple to make and is best served with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of paprika-infused oil.
A soup course is regularly present at the beginning of most Turkish meals and this red lentil soup is perhaps the most favored. It’s quick to make, cheap, and filling. A wonderful all-purpose soup, it is great any time of the year and is also a wonderful soup to feed to those who are sick. I remember my mom making a version of this soup almost on a weekly basis when I was younger…and she still makes it to this day! For this version, I’m following classic Turkish preparation and seasonings: onion, cumin, mint, and pepper. If you always keep red lentils in your pantry (you should!), you’ll always be able to make this perfect last-minute dish.
Unlike green or brown lentils, red lentils break down very easily when cooked and transform into a creamy texture when blended. This soup can be made as smooth as you like; just keep blending for a silky consistency or, instead, blend briefly for more texture. For a chunkier-textured lentil soup check out my more heavily spiced Middle Eastern Green Lentil Soup recipe.
Be sure to make the super simple paprika oil; it adds a beautiful pop of color in presentation and an earthy depth of flavor. To serve this soup, drizzle a teaspoon or so of the paprika oil on each bowl along with a squeeze of lemon and an extra sprinkle of mint or red pepper.
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 heaping Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried mint
- ½ teaspoon thyme or oregano
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (Turkish pul biber is great if you can get it)
- 8 cups water
- 4 teaspoons vegetable broth powder, or replace 4 cups of the water with 4 cups of a prepared vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste, depends on the saltiness of your broth)
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Pick through your lentils for any foreign debris, rinse them 2 or 3 times, drain, and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, sauté the olive oil and the onion with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and stir it around for around 1 minute. Now add the cumin, paprika, mint, thyme, black pepper, and red pepper and sauté for 10 seconds to bloom the spices. Immediately add the lentils, water, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil.
- After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover the pot halfway, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils have fallen apart and the carrots are completely cooked.
- In the meanwhile make the paprika oil by swirling together the olive oil, paprika, and red pepper in a small sauce pan over medium heat. The moment you see the paprika starting to bubble, remove the pan from the heat. It's done.
- After the soup has cooked and the lentils are tender, blend the soup either in a blender or simply use a hand blender to reach the consistency you desire. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
- Serve the soup with a drizzle of paprika oil, wedges of lemon, and extra mint and red pepper for everyone to customize to their taste.