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Kirmizi mercimek corbasi - Red lentil soup recipe

Kirmizi mercimek corbasi - Red lentil soup recipe

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This is Turkish red lentil soup and perfect for them cold evenings

Devon, England, UK

2 people made this


  • 1 cup of red lentils1
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 litre of water
  • 2 tbsp oil


  1. Put the 2 tbsp of oil in to a pan and heat up then add the onions and fry. Add all the other ingredients (flour being last) then add in the water. Cover with the lid and let the soup cook until the lentils and carrots are soft.
  2. Transfer the soup to a blender and wiz until smooth then transfer back to the pan. I have made this soup quite thick (which is the way I like it) but if you want a more "runny" soup then add some more hot water (adjust to your taste).
  3. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle paprika over the top. However you can make a sauce of 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of red pepper (powder), mix the two ingredients in a saucepan and then pour over the soup

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Recipe Box – Soups (Çorbarlar) – Kırmızı Mercımek Çorbası (Hearty Turkish Red Lentil Soup)

Try this recipe from Ozlem’s Turkish Table for a delicious and hearty soup for those cold winter days.

“Because of their rich protein content, lentils have been a valuable food source in Asia Minor since Neolithic times. This soup is most probably Turkey’s most popular soup, enjoyed not only for lunch and dinner but also for a hearty breakfast in Anatolia.

I like to add carrots and potatoes to this easy, delicious and nutritious soup. The lovely colours of red lentils, carrots and potatoes bring an array of sunshine to any cold winter day! The addition of cumin and red pepper flakes add a wonderful, energising flavour, as we do in Southern Turkish cooking. I recommend you to make a big batch and freeze some, as it freezes really well.

Red Lentil Soup. Turkish Style.

Wash the lentils in a strainer and put them in a pot.
Peel and chop up a large carrot, two if you'd like (but this recipe's nutrition facts only yield's one) and put it in the pot as well.
Fill the pot with 10-12 cups of water, (depending on how thick you would like your soup) and bring that mixture to a boil.
Once the soup boils, lower heat, let simmer and add tomato paste. (Make sure you periodically stir the soup because once the water absorbs it could stick on the bottom of the pot.)
Let the soup simmer for about a half hour, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft. (The pot can be covered or uncovered.) You may have to add more water while it is simmering if the soup becomes too thick, that is your choice.
After cooking, let the soup cool a bit, then pass the mixture through a sieve, or ricer, or a strainer, or even a blender depending on how smooth you would like the soup. (just a hint, the ricer gives the soup some texture, the blender makes the soup SUPER smooth.)
After the mixture is blended, the red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt can be added to taste.
In a separate pot (a small quart sized maybe) take the 4 tablespoons of butter and melt it over medium heat.
Add 1 tablespoon (of more if desired) of dried mint into the butter and fry it for a minute. (The smell is amazing.)
After mint/butter starts to bubble, pour the mixture on the top of the soup.
Without mixing, serve. (The mint mixture should separate from the lentil, so just a little in each bowl is good for the flavor.) This recipe yields about 8 1 cup servings depending on how thick you make your soup. Serve with a lemon wedge on the side, to add to the flavor.
This soup is a staple in Turkish cuisine, and has many variations. I hope you all try this recipe. Afiyet Olsun. (Enjoy!)

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Smooth, spicy, and nutritious, Turkish Red Lentil Soup is simple to make and is best served with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of paprika-infused oil.

A soup course is regularly present at the beginning of most Turkish meals and this red lentil soup is perhaps the most favored. It’s quick to make, cheap, and filling. A wonderful all-purpose soup, it is great any time of the year and is also a wonderful soup to feed to those who are sick. I remember my mom making a version of this soup almost on a weekly basis when I was younger…and she still makes it to this day! For this version, I’m following classic Turkish preparation and seasonings: onion, cumin, mint, and pepper. If you always keep red lentils in your pantry (you should!), you’ll always be able to make this perfect last-minute dish.

Unlike green or brown lentils, red lentils break down very easily when cooked and transform into a creamy texture when blended. This soup can be made as smooth as you like just keep blending for a silky consistency or, instead, blend briefly for more texture. For a chunkier-textured lentil soup check out my more heavily spiced Middle Eastern Green Lentil Soup recipe.

Be sure to make the super simple paprika oil it adds a beautiful pop of color in presentation and an earthy depth of flavor. To serve this soup, drizzle a teaspoon or so of the paprika oil on each bowl along with a squeeze of lemon and an extra sprinkle of mint or red pepper.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Recently I was bowled over by the flavours in Maryam’s Turkish Couscous Salad I simply had to try another Turkish recipe.

The combination of onion, paprika/chilli, mint and lemon juice in this salad worked extremely well, together with the excellent flavour carrier that is couscous and the fresh crunchy vegetables (ok tomato is a fruit) I could and did eat most of it all to myself.

Whilst the couscous salad is a powerhouse in terms of flavour there was one issue, my husband was put off by the raw onion as it was nearly time for dhur prayer.

Imam Al-Nawawi’s Riyad-us-Saliheen Chapter 311 Undesirability of Entering the Mosque after Eating raw Onion or Garlic 1703. Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “ He who has eaten garlic or onion should keep away from us or our mosques .” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: It is not permissible to eat raw onions, garlic or anything with a strong offending smell before going to the mosque. It is permissible, however, to eat them after their strong odour has vanished as a result of cooking or boiling. Since their odour vanishes after cooking, their use is permissible in cooked form. Source

Next time I will avoid making it for an early lunch or leave out the raw onion in shaa Allah.

This particular vegan version of turkish red lentil soup had no raw onion issue infact it didn’t even have any onion or garlic and I’m pretty much sure they are vegan! Thus it was lacking a little in base flavour so I would definitely saute an onion or few cloves of garlic if I were you making this and of course I was you making this not so very long ago BUT at 11:30am on a sunday morning I was browsing my pinterest boards for non meat meal inspiration, found this and thought that’ll do nicely and well it did do nicely, for me only. The kids and husband were having none of it and it wasn’t for the missing onion but more of a texture issue, apparently they like chunky soup and only chunky soup (i’m still going to try them with some homemade creamy tomato and basil soup, someday).

My soup turned out lighter in colour than the original recipe. I fathom that was because I used red pepper paste instead of tomato paste and substituted 3 fresh tomatoes for canned.

The flavour of the soup is part of that well loved combo from the couscous salad – cool mint, warming paprika/chilli and zingy lemon.

This red lentil soup is well suited for a rainy afternoon in spring, the colour alone is enough to make you smile / brighten your day.

Red Lentil Soup (Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası)

First, let me say that, in general, I am not a big fan of soups. However, Turkish Red Lentil Soup was my childhood favorite. Today, it is still my favorite. This remarkable soup was so warming and comforting in the cold days of winter. That is why I thought this is a perfect time to share this warming recipe since we are in the winter season currently. Although, I better get all my favorite winter recipes going since we only have a couple months of winter in Houston.

Red lentil soup is a Turkish favorite and served in most restaurants. Most households in Turkey consume this soup. This is another simple, yet delicious recipe.

The main ingredient, red lentils have a delicious nutty and hearty flavor which makes this soup so delectable, not to mention their (or lentils in general) health benefits which include but not limited to managing blood sugar disorders due to their inclusion of high fiber and lower cholesterol. Red lentils are a good source of protein, dietary fiber and iron similar to beans.

2 cups red lentils
1 medium onion (chopped finely)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp tomato paste
2.5 cups chicken broth
8 cups water
1 tsp oregano (optional)
¼ tsp paprika (optional)
Lemon or lime wedges

Run the red lentils under cold water and wash thoroughly. Heat the oil and add the chopped onions. Sauté for 3-5 minutes and add the red lentils. Mix the ingredients together for approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, water and tomato paste. Give it a stir. Add salt (adjust to your liking) and cook covered under medium heat. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat to low and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour until the red lentils are soft. Sprinkle with oregano and paprika. You may choose to squeeze some lemon before eating. Serve hot.

You may also choose to put the soup in the blender or food processor after it is cooked to puree the ingredients. I prefer to feel the texture of the lentils so I do not choose that method.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup | Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası

One of my favourite soups here in Turkey is Red Lentil Soup. Of course it’s not the same as lentil soup back home. Here is my version of Turkish Red Lentil Soup.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Rating: 4.33 stars – based on 3 reviews


    – 2 cups – 1 – 1 – 1 dessert spoon – 1 teaspoon – 1 teaspoon – 1/2 teaspoon – 1 – 1 to 2 teaspoons – 1 to 2 teaspoons – Season for Taste – 1 to 1/2 litres – 1 desert spoon


Heat your Oil in your pot. Then add your chopped Onion and Carrot to the oil and cook until soft.

Add in the Cumin, Paprika and Red pepper flakes, mix into your onion and carrot mix. Then add in your red lentils and mix together. Allow lentils to heat for a couple of minutes.

Pour your water over your mixture. Then add in your tomato paste and mix through. Allow your soup to come to the boil allow to boil for 3 to 5 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 30 mins or until your lentils have turned to a pulp (mushy).

You can leave your lentils mushy but I like to whizz my lentils with a blender till the soup is smooth. Then add in your mint and thyme (you can use oregano if you prefer). Then season to taste.

Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and mint on top with some nice crusty bread.

I often add in more mint and thyme once I’ve tasted the soup. You will get to know how you like it to taste.

I don’t add in a lot of red pepper flakes but if you like it hot then you can add more, I prefer to offer some flakes with the soup for those who like a bit more heat.

You can also serve it with a wedge of lemon which is popular to do here.

I hope you like my soup recipe and I look forward to trying your red lentil soup recipe. Please let me know if you try the recipe.

Kirmizi mercimek corbasi - Red lentil soup recipe - Recipes

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite. It was a perfect day for soup. The sun rose somewhere this morning, but it certainly was here, and it didn't take much for the Oregon damp and chill to reach these old bones. Fortunately, I still had turkey stock in the refrigerator and knew that somewhere in the recesses of the pantry I had a cup of red lentils that would whisk me to the dusty paths of Ephesus and memories of the extraordinary people with whom I first had the soup I wanted to prepare. At several points during our visit to Turkey, we crossed paths with a small group of pilgrims who were retracing the journey of St. Paul through the Mediterranean. Ephesus held special meaning for these devout and true believers and it was here that we first met and broke bread with them. The mainstay of their diet was a soup very similar to the one I'm featuring today. Red lentil soup is extremely popular in Turkey and, with slight variations, it can be found throughout the country. Their version of the soup - Ezo Gelin - comes with a story. The soup is attributed to Ezo, a woman, who despite her great beauty, was unlucky in love. An arranged first marriage to a man who loved another, ended in divorce. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law. Ezo created her soup to please the woman, and that soup, and Ezo's story, have become legend. The soup is now symbolically fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead. An authentic recipe for Ezo Gelin Corbasi can be found here . I didn't have all the ingredients I needed to make her soup, so I decided to make this version which is also wonderful and extremely easy to prepare. The soup is usually pureed, but I bypassed that step because I wanted some texture in the version I planned to serve for dinner. I know that those of you who try this soup will love it. It is warm and hearty and has wonderful color. It's easy to make and even more importantly, it's delicious. Do try this. Here's the recipe.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup . from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by and countless Turkish women

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red lentils
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
6 cups vegetable or poultry stock
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Greek-style yogurt for serving

1) Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and carrots and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2) Add garlic, cumin, coriander and ginger and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add tomato paste, lentils, tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 30 minutes.
3) Transfer mixture to a blender in batches and process until smooth. If soup is too thick, thin with water or additional stock. Serve in individual bowls topped with a dollop of yogurt. Yield: 6 large servings.

Mercimek Köftesi

One of the most popular mezze of Turkish cuisine is mercimek köftesi. It is a vegan dish mainly made with red lentils and bulgur.

What are mercimek köftesi?

The two most important ingredients in mercimek köftesi are bulgur and lentils.

In Turkish, mercimek means lentils. The word köftesi is the plural of the word köfte.

Related Posts:

The word köfte in Turkish means “meatball”, and by extension the word has also been attributed to meatless preparations.

The word kofta comes from the classic Persian word kōfta (کوفته), which means “rissole” from the verb kōftan, meaning “to pound” or “to grind”, reflecting the ground meat used for meatballs.

In Turkey, many dishes are prepared in the form of meatballs. Here are some examples :

  • köfte kebab is a grilled meatball,
  • ciğ köfte, where ciğ means “raw”, is a very spicy raw beef or mutton patty served cold
  • kadinbudu kofte, whose literal translation is “female thigh dumpling”, in connection with the shape of this dumpling which is reminiscent of a woman’s thigh. Kandibudu köftesi are mainly made of ground beef and rice with parsley and/or dill, Turkish kasari cheese and spices. These dumplings are breaded and fried.
  • içli köfte is similar to kebbeh, a popular meatball in Levantine cuisine, that comes in the shape of a torpedo and is made from minced lamb or beef wrapped in bulgur or rice before being fried.
  • sulu köfte is a stew or thick soup, like mercimek çorbasi, with köftesi. It consists of meatballs, usually beef, mixed with rice or bulgur, onion and spices and boiled in their own sauce, with tomato sauce, olive oil and the famous Turkish red pepper paste called biber salçası.
  • tahinli batırık köfte is a vegan dish just like the mercimek köfte, but which consists mainly of bulgur and tahini (sesame paste). Filled with spices, and often walnuts and/or pistachios.

How to make mercimek köftesi

The preparation of this very popular Turkish dish is actually very easy. However, there are a few tips to be aware of.

One of the most important tips for making these lentil meatballs is to properly adjust the ratio of lentils to water.

You should first cook the lentils until they are very soft, as keeping them firm would not be suitable to easily shape patties.

Make sure that the lentils haven’t absorbed all the water, otherwise the bulgur won’t have enough water to be hydrated and could not swell. For the bulgur to swell, the lentils must therefore be slightly watery. So make sure there is still a small amount of water left.

Do not wet the bulgur before mixing it with the lentils. Indeed, if it is wet beforehand, it will not swell in the lentils and will not have the expected consistency.

It is very important to cover the preparation while the bulgur is swelling and it is also the steam generated by cooking the lentils that will help it swell.

As for the preparation of the tomato paste with olive oil, at this stage, if you put too little fat, the balls may not hold, if you put too much, the consistency and the taste would not be good.

It is very important to add fresh parsley and onions while the preparation is lukewarm so that they do not cook with heat and above all keep their bright color, which is very characteristic of this Turkish mezze.

If the mercimek köftesi do not have the expected consistency, put a little bulgur in hot water and add it to the mixture. The added bulgur will absorb the excess water and oil and make the consistency better.

Another suggestion is to incorporate boiled potato. Boiled potatoes will absorb excess oil and water and give the meatballs the desired consistency.


Like mezze, bulgur is the backbone of Turkish cuisine.

The Anatolian lands and the geographical conditions being favorable for the cultivation of wheat, wheat products, including bulgur, constitute the basis of Turkish cuisine. For example, bulgur pilaf holds a special place in Turkish cuisine.

Bulgur, also known as bulgur, borghol, bourghol or burghul, is a by-product of durum wheat stripped of the bran that surrounds it, steamed, dried and finally crushed.

Bulgur, a word from the Turkish word bulgur, of Persian origin which means “parboiled wheat” is an ingredient widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially in Syrian and Lebanese cuisine, in recipes such as tabbouleh, kibbeh, mjadra, or bourghol, but also in Iraq almost as a main dish but also in Armenia, Greece, and Turkey.

In Tunisia, there is also a dish called borghol, which is in the form of a red soup (tomato), in which the bulgur is mixed with chickpeas, harissa, garlic, and beans all seasoned with cumin and olive oil.

Bulgur is one of the main ingredients of the famous kishk, which is bulgur mixed with yogurt fermented for a week, then dried in the sun.

In Turkish, Armenian, Syrian cuisines and in general in various cuisines of the Middle East and even the Mediterranean, bulgur is the basis of many recipes.

With regard to the bulgur variety, in Turkey, for example, a distinction is made between pilavlik bulgur (fine bulgur) and köftelik bulgur (coarse bulgur).

Here are some examples of delicious bulgur dishes from Turkish cuisine:

  • ezorbelin çorbası is a traditional Turkish soup made with lentils, tomato, bulgur and rice, flavored with dried mint, olive oil and peppers. is a bulgur-based mezze found in Turkish and Kurdish cuisines, that is similar to tabbouleh. The main ingredients are fine bulgur, parsley and tomato purée. is a traditional Lebanese dish made from bulgur and chickpeas and which is usually eaten with yogurt. It is also eaten in certain regions in Turkey.

This recipe is validated by our Turkish culinary expert, Chef Dilara Erbay, of Abracadabra Magic Deli in New York.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

We haven’t shared that many soup recipes on here, but soup probably makes up a good third of my diet. I love soup! This is just another reason why I was born to marry into a Turkish family. If you ever make it to Turkey (which I can’t suggest more highly), you’ll see that delicious soups are frequently served as a starter to evening meals and eaten for breakfast and lunch as well. Soup with every meal?! Basically my idea of heaven.

We’ve made and shared High Plateau Soup, another Turkish soup recipe before – it’s rich, creamy, and incredibly unique – at least for my American palate! This soup has entirely different flavors, very reminiscent of soups Selim’s aunts and grandmother made for us in Turkey. Red lentil soup (kirmizi mercimek çorbasi) is hearty and filling, easy to make, and delicious. Make for a week of lunches like I did, or maybe next Monday, if you subscribe to #MeatlessMondays!