Turkish Red Lentil Soup – süzme or not süzme?

This winter weather is trying to drive us crazy. 30 cm of snow on New Year, +19 in th first week of 2016 and then for a week we enjoyed Lodos winds that made me scared at night, thinking that our balcony would collapse or the windows would break. But guess what? Next week we are expecting some snow again. Global warming you say… Anyway, I simply hope that it will not hit us as badly as last year, when friendly Lodos‘s speed reached 107 km/h and the city looked like a scene of a horror movie after a couple of days.

In the cold weather it is important to have some easy hearty recipes on hand to keep warm. Turks have some brilliant ideas about food. Sucuklu Kuru Fasulye or White Beans Stew is one good example of Turkey’s staple foods, and today’s recipe is another one.

Çorba (soup) in Turkey can be eaten for lunch and dinner, as a starter or main course. Most of Turkish soups are smooth and creamy, with lots of vegetables. At home, in Ukraine, soups are usually cooked with much more ingredients, mostly with meat broth and meat pieces, and never smoothed or blended. Honestly, I was never a fan of Turkish soups. Coming here on holidays, soups that were served in hotels looked more like a baby food to me. But now, ever since I moved here, I realised that in winter baby-looking-food is amazing with the right amount of spices, lemon and crusty white bread :D And most important, it is healthy and not difficult to make.

Do you like lentils? I used to hate it. For its looks and for its taste too. Until I figured out that kırmızı mercimek çorbası (red lentil soup) might be the only convincing option for me to consume this highly beneficial ingredient. What’s good about lentils, you may ask. 1 cup of red lentils will provide you with almost half of one’s daily value of iron, around 35% of protein, and more than half of dietary fiber. It is low in sodium, fat and sugar, but high in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, omega fatty acids and provides with 90% daily value of folic acid 

Süzme Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası (Strained red lentil soup)

Ingredients (3-4 portions)

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 small potato, quartered
  • 1 cup of red lentils, thoroughly washed
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1,2-1,5 l water, room temperature
  • 1,5 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4-1 tsp cumin
  • 1,5-2 tsp red pepper (sweet or spicy)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

for dressing (3 options)

  • butter + red pepper + lemon wedge
  • olive oil + vinegar + garlic + black pepper + red pepper + lemon juice
  • make your own :)

You will also need a blender or a wire strainer.

In you are planning to use a blender you don’t need to care much about chopping carrots and potatoes, you can cut is roughly, but if using the wire strainer it is preferably to chop the ingredient in smaller pieces as it would be easier to strain it later.

Preparation:

On a low heat sauté onions in olive oil until softened, add garlic, mix and sauté until fragrant, add carrots, half tsp cumin and 1 tsp red pepper, mix well and let the vegetables cook for 3-4 more minutes to absorb the flavours. Be careful not to burn onions or they will give a very bitter and burnt taste to the soup. Continue cooking it on a low heat.

Add lentils, mix everything well, let cook for 3-4 additional minutes, throw in potatoes, add 5-6 glasses (1,2 l) of room temperature water, turn the heat up and wait until the soup starts to boil. Now turn the heat down and simmer for 40-45 minutes until lentils are well cooked. Add more water as needed and make sure to check and mix everything with a spoon every 10 min to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot (in case you have a nice a thick one, you don’t need to worry about that).

5 minutes before it’s done add salt, black pepper and the rest of spices. Add salt gradually and taste. Adjust the amount as per your liking. Don’t be afraid of using all other spices except for salt – they are what makes this soup tasty, as everything else, including lentils, has a very mild and blant taste, so the spices will help bring it up.

Once done you can either blend it with a standing or hand blender, or use a wire strainer. The latter method is how the soup was (and still is) originally made in the villages and since you will be throwing out some of the leftovers on the strainer, it will make the soup more airy and thin. This is how I prefer it as well.

After you finish blending, taste, add more salt or spices if needed, add more water if it’s too thick and bring to boil.

To make the dressing with butter – melt the butter in a small pan, add red pepper and mix. Done :) This is the same dressing used for serving mantı.

To make a more sour and acidic dressing, in a little bowl mix some olive oil, vinegar, black pepper, red pepper and lemon juice. There’s really no exact quantities of the ingredients as they can be adjusted to your taste.

Serve steaming hot, with white French crusty bread and lemon wedges to squeeze over the soup.

Afiyet olsun!

 

 

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