Turkish lentil soup or mercimek corbasi is a really simple and delicious vegetarian soup that makes for a perfect lunch or simple starter.
A silky smooth and creamy soup that uses absolutely no cream and can be switched to vegan by omitting the butter in the paprika topping.
We have become so accustomed to “food fireworks” that simple, subtle, and delicious homely food is often viewed with disdain.
It is a shame because subtlety is just as important in cooking as “wizzbang”.
This pretty classic Turkish lentil soup is silky smooth and creamy despite using no cream at all. Its earthy flavour is piqued with subtle hints of dried mint and ground cumin.
It is then given a topping of paprika butter or oil, tahini, sumac, and chives.
And it is so incredibly simple to cook. Soften the onions for 10 minutes, add everything else and a lid, and take a stroll, have a cuppa because your work is done for an hour.
Then blend and tuck in or refrigerate and have Turkish lentil soup or Mercimek Çorbasi for lunch all week long!
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of lentils should I use?
Red or yellow lentils are perfect for this dish, there is very little difference in terms of shifts in flavour or texture by choosing either. Is often use them interchangeably just as I do with my spicy carrot and lentil soup.
Yellow lentils give a slightly lighter colour to the dish.
How long will the soup keep?
This recipe is a soup that I will often make up at the weekend and have it for lunch all week. It will save in the fridge for 4-5 days in an air-tight container.
Will it freeze well?
Yes, this Turkish lentil soup freezes perfectly and will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to freeze in heavy-duty freezer bags in portions for one or two.
I then reheat from frozen by dropping the bags into a pan of simmering water. This reduces evaporation and means that to soup is in perfect condition when you pour it out of the bag.
Is this soup vegan?
Yes, the soup itself is vegan. I have it tagged as vegetarian because I strongly favour using butter to create the paprika swirl.
You can turn the whole thing vegan by just using olive oil rather than an olive oil and butter mix. And it is still delicious!
This is often simple lunchtime soup for me. As a result, will often just grab whatever bread I have lying around to dunk and clean the bowl.
If I am serving it as a light dinner or fancy putting in a bit more effort then toasting up some pitta bread make perfect dipping chips.
Frying up some carrots or parsnips ribbons as I do with my curried parsnip soup also makes a great topping.
One final suggestion would be to make the lemon and parsley crumb that I serve with my sea bream fillet recipe and sprinkle it on top.
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 20cm or 8″ saucepan with a lid.
- Chopping board.
- Kitchen knife.
- Vegetable peeler.
- Blender, a stick blender would work too.
- Fine mesh sieve.
- Stirrind and serving spoons.
Turkish lentil soup is called mercimek çorbasi in Turkish and it is a simple but delicious creamy soup that uses no cream. My version features hints of dried mint and cumin and a topping of paprika butter, tahini, chives and sumac.
- 200g (1 Cup) Yellow or Red Lentils
- 150g (1 Cup) Onion
- 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
- ½ Tbsp Flour
- 150g (~1 Cup) Potato
- 100g (~1 Cup) Carrot
- 1 Litre (~4 Cups) Vegetable Stock
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
- ½ Tsp Dried Mint
- ½ Ground Cumin
- Salt to Taste (probably not needed)
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 50g (~3 Tbsp) Butter
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- 2 Tsp Tahini
- Sumac to serve
- Snipped Chives to serve
- Peel the onions and cut them into a rough 1.5cm (½-¾") dice.
- Heat the cooking oil in a medium (20cm or 8") saucepan over a medium high heat.
- Add the diced onion and cook for 10 minutes until the onion softens and begins to colour.
- Peel the carrot and potato and cut both into a rough 1cm (¼-½") dice.
- Add the flour to the cooked onions and cook stirring constantly for 1 minute.
- Add the lentils, vegetable stock, potato, carrot, black pepper, cumin and mint.
- Drop on a lid, reduce the heat to low-medium and then cook gently for an hour.
- After an hour transfer the soup to a blender and blend to a smooth paste.
- Transfer through a fine mesh sieve back into the pan.
- Bring back to temperature.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a separate pan over a medium heat.
- Remove from the heat and add the paprika to the olive oil and butter mix.
- Serve in a bowl with a swirl of paprika butter and a swirl of tahini.
- Serve sprinkled with sumac and snipped chives.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 443Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 1620mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 9gSugar: 7gProtein: 10g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.