I love red lentils. And I love Turkish soup. This thick, slightly spicy soup is a filling and a winter staple for me. Try it and you will see.
This soup is called Turkish Bride Soup (or Ezogelin soup), and is named after Ezo Gelin Çorbası, a woman revered in Turkey for her beauty. She lived near an ancient caravan route, and when young would often serve water to visitors and legend of her beauty spread. But she was unlucky in love. Her first marriage was not happy; her husband loved someone else, despite the charms of his wife, and treated her badly. She bore nine children to her second husband but was also unhappy. She had to move to Syria, was homesick, and had a difficult time with her mother-in-law. She died in the 1950s from tuberculosis.
She is immortalised in Turkey in song and film. It is had to imagine how captivting she must have been, and how her beauty allegedly seemed to only increase even in her misery. She is credited with making this hearty soup to try to please her fault-finding mother-in-law. The soup is now served to bride’s on their wedding day to remind them of the potential bitterness and difficulty in their married life ahead.
On a happier note, it really is a lovely and robust soup. And also cheap to make. It is delicious with grilled Turkish bread, but full enough to be eaten by itself.
Ingredients (serves four)
1 cup red lentils
3 tablespoons burgul (optional – can substitute brown rice or use more white rice)
3 tablespoons white rice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 tablespoon butter
1 slurp olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika (optional)
2.5 litres of chicken stock or water (or more as required)
salt and black pepper to taste
- Chop the onions finely, and crush the garlic. Melt in the butter and fry until translucent.
- Add the additional olive oil, then spoon in the tomato paste and paprika.
Stir in the red lentils then fry for a minute or so.
- Pour over the water, and bring to the boil. Add the burgul (if using) and rice, and dried mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Boil gently for around 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. You may need to add more liquid.
- Traditionally this soup is blended so that it is has a fine texture, but I like mine thick and rustic as is.
Red lentils: $0.94
Tomato paste: 15c
Olive oil: 15c