Turkish lentil soup – mercimek çorbası – is a simple but moreish dish. A perfect starter or light meal when served with bread. This dish is traditionally vegan and exemplifies the deep, earthy flavours that can be found in the Middle East.
There are many varieties of lentil soup across Middle Eastern cuisines. Some use red, green, or brown lentils; they have different combinations of spices and can use vegetables or not. Today, I have started with a red lentil soup that is often served as an appetizer in Turkey. This soup is made without too many spices or vegetables but is often garnished with a chilli oil sauce and a slice of lemon. You can find it on most menus in Turkish cafes because it is the perfect food to quench both thirst and hunger. If eaten with lemon, it can even make you hungrier, ready for the main course.
This Turkish lentil soup is a direct translation from mercimek çorbası. Mercimek = lentils and çorbası = soup. (pronounced merjimek chorrbaseh)
Compared to traditional English soups, this delicate dish has a thin consistency. If you prefer a heartier dish, I will be writing an Iranian chunky green lentil and potato soup recipe soon.
Is lentil soup good for you?
Lentil soups are wholesome and healthy because lentils contain protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and are low in fat. Lentils also have slow-release carbohydrates, giving you energy for longer. They are especially good for anyone looking to include more vegan protein in their diet. Eat with fresh lemon juice to aid digestion before a meal.
- Take your time frying the onion, and tomato paste on a low heat to achieve the best taste.
- When frying the chilli powder for the sauce, avoid burning by using medium heat and watch to make sure the colour doesn’t go too dark.
- Add more water as needed if water has evaporated.