Today was supposed to be the E17 Cook Book Club summer picnic – cue torrential rain! So a quick Plan B re-think led to an indoor get together and suddenly a warming lentil soup seemed more appropriate than cucumber sandwiches.
Soup is a staple part of Turkish cuisine, at home or at work, for breakfast, lunch or dinner and before or after a night out partying – the soup shops are open 24 hours a day. Ezo Gelin Corbasi (Bride’s Soup) is a lentil soup with tomato and mint, we prefer this to the basic Mercimek Corbasi lentil soup as it has a bit more character and flavour.
It is apparently named after Ezo, a very beautiful bride (gelin) from southeastern Turkey. Some recipe variations include fine bulgar wheat or a handful of rice, paprika or dried thyme or a couple of chopped fresh tomatoes so feel free to experiment. It’s a really popular soup in Turkey and seems to be in every cafe, restaurant and soup shop. This version was adapted from ‘Turkish Cuisine’ by Tugrul Savkay.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 litre stock (meat or veggie)
1 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
150g red lentils, washed
1-2 tsp Turkish red chilli pepper flakes
2 tsp dried mint
salt and black pepper
wedges of fresh lemon
chopped fresh parsley
This soup is really simple and cheap to make, but it’s also satisfying, delicious and one of our favourites.
Start by chopping the onion, then heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion until it softens. Add the stock and tomato paste to the pan and bring to the boil, then add the lentils, chilli pepper flakes and mint. Turn the heat down and put a lid on the pan. Cook the soup, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes until the lentils are soft.
Blend with a hand-held blender if you want a smooth consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste. It’s quite a thick and satisfying soup but if you want a thinner, lighter soup just add more water during the cooking.
Serve with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkle of red chilli pepper flakes and chopped fresh parsley and chunks of good, fresh bread. I think this soup often tastes better the following day as the flavours have had time to develop, the only thing you may have to do is add some water to thin it down.