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turkish spicy lentil soup with red pepper and dried mint

January 11, 2011

Whit and I just got back from Turkey last month.  We spent time in both the countryside and Istanbul, and one of our favorite things was trying all of the different foods!

We loved the spicy food that was so prevalent in the countryside – they used lots of red peppers.  Turkish cuisine is also known for consisting mostly of vegetables and grains.  This soup is a perfect example of the food in the countryside.

The recipe comes from a cooking class we took at Cooking Alaturka while in Istanbul.  Eveline Zoutendijk, a Dutch expat who trained at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, teaches the class with her sous chef Feyzi.

In addition to the spicy lentil soup, we also made zucchini pancakes with white cheese and herbs served with garlic yogurt, green runner beans with tomatoes, lamb stew over smoky eggplant puree, and quince stewed in syrup with grated apple.  Needless to say, it was one of the best meals of our trip!

Here’s what you’ll need for the soup:

The jar in the middle of the picture above is red bell pepper paste.

It’s not the easiest thing to find in the US (check out Mediterranean markets in your area) but you can also use extra tomato paste and red pepper flakes in its place.

I used French green lentils in this recipe because they are the highest in protein.  Red lentils would be prettier in the soup, so if I was serving it then that’s probably what I would use.  They all taste the same, so use whatever you have.

Start by bringing a pot of water about 2-3 fingers high to a boil.  Add the lentils and lower to a simmer.  Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, until they just start to fall apart.  Drain the lentils and set aside.

In another pot (large enough for the soup) melt the butter.  Then add the oil and flour, stirring quickly.

Cook until the roux becomes a light caramel color.

When the roux is the right color, add the dried mint and chili flakes.

Stir in the tomato and red pepper pastes.

Be sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn!

Add the lentils and cold stock, then bring the mixture to a boil.

Once the soup comes to a boil, add the bulgar.

After the bulgar is added, remove the soup from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turkish Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper

1 1/2 c red lentils, washed but not soaked
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste (can substitute more tomato paste)
5 cups chicken stock, room temperature or cold
1/4 c coarse bulgur
lemon wedges, to serve
red pepper, to serve

Cook the lentils 15-20 minutes in 2-3 fingers high of water, until they fall apart. If needed, foam can be skimmed off the surface while cooking. Set aside when ready.

In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add flour to make a light roux. Add the mint, chili flakes, tomato and red pepper pastes. Stir continuously so nothing burns. Add the lentils, then the cold stock and bring to a boil, still stirring. Add the bulgur once the soup is boiling. Remove soup from heat after the bulgur is added. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with lemon wedges and red pepper on the side.

Serves 6.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. MRM permalink
    January 11, 2011 9:12 pm

    Sound great for a cold night. What wine do you recommend?

    • January 11, 2011 11:02 pm

      I’d try a Zinfandel with the soup since it has a little spice to it – you could try the 2006 Pope Valley Winery “Eakle Vineyard” Zinfandel. Its about $15.

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