Turkish lentil soup

Souper-husband and I went on our honeymoon to Fethiye in Turkey and this recipe is one of our souvenirs of that trip.

On the coast of the Aegean-fish-larder, there were many good restaurants in town but, without doubt, the best place to eat was the fish market.  Situated in a square surrounded by restaurants, it was open until late every night.  After ogling the catch of the day and executing fish-purchasing transactions in a quaint form of Turglish, we took our haul to one of the restaurants where it was cooked to our liking and served with salad and Turkish breads for the grand total of around £3 per head.

Each restaurant was unique so we had a good excuse to return again and again to sample the different range of mezze/snoop at the different clientele/see which different Turkish football team was playing on a fuzzy tv by the bar.  It was in one of those restaurants that we ate squid grilled on the barbeque, lightly charred on the outside, but not rubbery, and with an amazing smoky flavour.  Accompanied by delicious olives, light and fluffy Turkish bread and a salad made with tomatoes ripened under a warm Mediterranean sun it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.

fish marketolives2



I’m not going to give you the recipe for that though.  Context is pretty important and I think we would all struggle with sourcing sufficiently fresh ingredients, let alone the honeymoon vibe.

Fear not, however, as I DO have a soup for you.  You may think that a lentil soup is not a particularly good choice for the “summer” but hear me out.  Wherever you happen to be, there can be summer days that are somewhat disappointing in terms of warmth.  The sun goes down (if it had ever come up) and you are left feeling a little chilly.  Not chilly enough to make up a big pot of stew, but chilly nonetheless.  This soup is what you should make in that situation:  it is warming and filling yet interesting and exotic.  Slurp it up and be filled with hope for a sunnier tomorrow!  Oh and it’s also really healthy and incredibly easy to make.

You should be able to get Sumac in larger supermarkets but if not a middle eastern deli should have it.  If such searching is beyond you, adding some lemon juice will have a similar effect and the soup will still taste lovely.

One final note – please don’t wimp out on the quantity of dried mint.  It’s what really makes the soup special.  Enjoy!



1 white onion, finely sliced

1 carrot, finely sliced

1 tsp each paprika and cumin

Chilli flakes to taste

1.5 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup red lentils

6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)

1.5 tbsp dried mint

1 tbsp sumac



Fry the onion in a little oil.  Once softened, add the carrot.  Add the spices, chilli flakes, tomato paste and lentils to the pan and stir well.  Add the stock and cook until the lentils are tender.  Blend.

Add the dried mint and sumac, cook for another few minutes and then serve.


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