Red Lentil Soup -“Kirmizi Mercimek Chorbasi” in Turkish -is one of the most popular soups in Turkey ones along with chicken soup. Almost every traditional eatery “Lokanta” you walk into serves lentil soup. This soup is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Turkish meals traditionally start with soup that is not creamy but water-based. I find the concept of starting main meals with soup very healthy as much as it is great for hydration it is also a great strategy for weight control as a large amount of liquid is very filling and prevents excessive eating. However, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t forget to read my blog on lifestyle elements that support weight loss- click here.
This is a simple traditional recipe, and it is absolutely effortless to make within 40 minutes. It is so filling and nourishing. We have this soup on Sunday evenings alone if we had had a big roast for our Sunday lunch. It is rich in protein and antioxidants (carotenoids) thanks to the red lentils and carrots. Lentils are high in protein and fiber and low in fat, which makes them a healthy substitute for meat. They’re also loaded with folate, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber. Unlike other pulses (legumes) lentils do not need pre-soaking and cook very quickly.
Because it requires no pres-sooking and is quick to cook lentils are very popular in Turkish kitchens. If you like them, there is another vegan recipe with them – “Red Lentil Kofte” and it is absolutely so filling, flavourful, and delicious – click here for the recipe. If you are on a plant-based diet this is your dream.
This soup also works so well with chicken stock. I prefer to use vegetable stock from Marigold – Swiss Vegetable Bullion Powder that is gluten-free and yeast-free whilst bursting with vegetable flavours.
Potato is optional in this recipe if you would like some starchy texture but I don’t always put it in, it is just nice as it is. Instead of potato you can also add some rice (1 tbsp) to add creamy thickness.
Turks always garnish their soup at the table according to their personal taste – a drizzle of freshly squeezed lemon juice, dried chili and mint flakes on top add that refreshing zing and warming spicy kick we all crave for in the cold winter days. Of course, freshly baked bread is always a delicious addition!
Serves: 4-6 Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
- 1 cup red lentils rinsed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil/coconut oil/butter
- 1 yellow onion (medium), chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 carrot (medium), chopped
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1.5 lt vegetable stock (low-salt)
- 1 baby potato (small), peeled and chopped
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch red chili flakes (optional), for garnish
- 2-3 drops lemon juice, for garnish
- Cream/Vegan Cream , optional
- Warm the oil in a medium-size stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until soft but not brown by stirring frequently – approximately for 3-5 minutes.
- Add the carrot and potato and sauté for a further 3 minutes until the vegetable sweat.
- In the meantime dissolve the tomato paste in the stock by stirring and set aside.
- Stir in the lentils, salt, pepper, and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and tender.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool for 5-10 minutes.
- Using a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth and creamy. If the consistency is too thick for your liking, add more stock or water to suit your taste.
- Garnish with red chili flakes and a couple of drops of lemon juice. Serve piping hot.