Turkish red lentil soup is best served with a squeeze of lemon. This gluten free and vegan soup is so simple to make at home.
Turkish cuisine offers so many easy and delicious recipes that don't call for exotic ingredients. You can make recipes such as cacik (Turkish yogurt and cucumber), gozleme (Turkish stuffed flatbread) and Turkish white bean salad with staples in your pantry and fridge. This red lentil soup is another easy Turkish recipe that you can make at home.
Red lentil in Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine uses red lentils in many recipes because of its soft texture and versatility. Dishes such as Turkish vegan lentil meatballs are common in Turkey and you enjoy them in different occasions. Red lentils cook quickly and unlike brown and green lentils that keep their shape after cooking, red lentils break down easily and therefore are perfect for smooth and creamy soup recipes.
Red lentils have a lot of nutritional benefits and they're also so easy to work with. I suggest you always keep some red lentils in your pantry because they make a great quick weeknight dinner.
The benefits of red lentils
Red lentils, like other type of lentils are very nutritious. They are packed with B vitamins and potassium. In addition to being gluten free, fat free and low calorie, red lentils are also a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans and they are also high in fiber. Lentils are very easy to cook and they're usually ready within 20 to 30 minutes.
Did you know? Even though lentils are mostly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cuisines, these days the biggest producer of lentils is Canada.
Easy Turkish lentil soup
Turkish red lentil soup, known as mercimek corbasi is one of the most popular soups in Turkish cuisine. It's a simple dish made with a few ingredients and has a fresh taste thanks to lemon. The seasoning for this soup is cumin and Aleppo pepper. Turkish restaurants serve mercimek corbasi as a popular appetizer or a light evening meal.
Many Turkish people name mercimek corbasi their favorite soup alongside yogurt soup (yayla corbasi) Turkish soups are usually more watery and less dense compared to other soups therefore they're perfect as appetizers or light meals.
Like many other Mediterranean recipes, mercimek corbasi is also a vegan recipe that's also gluten free. It's a last minute weeknight dinner that you can make in no time because the ingredients are always ready and at hand.
Ingredients to make Turkish lentil soup
To make this easy and simple red lentil soup, you need a few ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Red lentils
- Tomato paste
- Salt, cumin, Aleppo pepper and black pepper
The seasoning for this soup, as mentioned above, is very simple. The addition of Aleppo pepper gives this soup great flavor without making it too spicy. It's best to serve this smooth and creamy lentil soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
What other vegetables can I use?
In some Turkish lentil soup recipes, you might see the addition of potatoes as well. You can add potatoes if you like the soup to be thicker. I've also tried red lentil soups in Turkey that use potatoes instead of carrots or simply leave the carrot out. This is a basic soup base recipe that you can tweak according to your liking.
How much lentil do I need?
Red lentils tend to increase in volume when cooked. I usually use ¼ to ⅓ cup red lentils per person if I'm making this soup as an appetizer. I usually increase the amount to ½ cup if I'm serving the soup as a main dish or a light dinner.
Should I soak red lentils before cooking?
Unlike many other legumes, lentils don't need to be soaked before cooking. Red lentils cook in about 20 to 30 minutes and you don't need to soak them.
How to make Turkish red lentil soup
- Heat olive oil in a pot and saute onion until golden.
- Add in tomato paste and cook for a minute. Add in chopped carrots and cook for a few minutes.
- Next, add the red lentils and spices. Stir well and add water.
- Bring to simmer and cook covered for about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes until the lentils are fully cooked.
- Blend the soup in blender or use an immersion blender.
This is one of the easiest lentil soup recipes out there that you will be making on a regular basis. It's perfect for a chilly evening or when you're in a hurry to make dinner. It's filling, yet calls for very few ingredients that you can modify according to your liking!
How much water should I add?
Red lentils tend to absorb a lot of water so make sure you add enough water to the soup. Start with cups and then add more water if needed. And since you might need to add more water, please taste the soup before serving to make sure you've added enough salt and pepper.
What to do with the leftovers
Mercimek corbasi is best served hot and fresh. If you have leftovers, simply store it in an airtight, preferably glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve, reheat the soup in a sauce pan with ½ cup water and simmer over medium heat until completely heated through. Serve with some fresh lemon for more flavor.
Looking for more lentil soup recipes?
- Instant pot lentil soup
- Chicken lentil soup
- Curry lentil soup
- Turmeric red lentil soup
- Mediterranean green lentil soup
Turkish Red Lentil Soup Recipe (Mercimek Corbasi)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 6 cups water
- Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
- Saute onion until golden. Add tomato paste and cook for a minute.
- Add in carrots and cook for a couple of minutes.
- To the onion and carrot, add the red lentils, salt, pepper, cumin, Aleppo pepper and black pepper. Stir well and cook for a minute.
- Pour in the water and bring the soup to simmer. Cook covered on medium heat for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes until the lentils are completely cooked.
- Blend the soup in the blender or using an immersion blender until it's creamy and smooth.
- Serve warm with a squeeze of lemon.
- You can add one potato (chopped) to this recipe if you would like it to be more filling.
- If you don't like carrots, you can leave them out in this recipe.
- Store the leftovers in a glass airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the soup in a sauce pan with ⅓ cup water and reheat over medium heat.