Thursday, February 6, 2014

TWO Turkish Lentil Soups

Here are two simply amazing Turkish soups, each sporting lentils.  We love both of these soups so much.

The first soup, a Lentil Apricot Soup came from one of Mollie Katzen's cookbooks from my mother's kitchen.  We originally had this at her house, using red lentils, and I've since made it using green/brown lentils. Both ways are delicious, but if you're looking for a milder/subtler flavor, or you're not used to eating lentils, or if you're short on time, I would suggest using the red lentils.

In doing a little research on this soup, I have come to guess that it is Turkish as there are several recipes similar to this one out there on the internet claiming Turkey as the country of origin.  The exception, though, is that most of those soups had some sort of tomato component that this soup is lacking (but I like it that way!).  So just a fair warning -- this soup may not actually be Turkish...but calling it such helped make 2 so-similar posts just one. :D

Lentil Apricot Soup
Serves 6-8

  • 2 cups lentils, red or green/brown
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups minced onion
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 cup sliced apricots
  • 2 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 2-3 TBLS balsamic vinegar (start with 2, taste, and adjust accordingly)
--Combine lentils and water.  Boil and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
-- Add remaining ingredients, minus the vinegar, and continue simmering another 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft.
-- Add the vinegar and stir.
-- Alt: you can do this in the crockpot, too, just dump it all in, minus the vinegar, and cook on high for 4-5 hrs.

The next soup is actually Turkish.  I promise.  I got the recipe quite a few months ago out of the Wall Street Journal my dad was thumbing through.  The recipe was at the bottom of an article proclaiming we all need to go back to our roots and start eating the way our great-grandparents did.  This soup is from a turn of the century recipe.  As in, the turn of the last century.

I changed the recipe very little.  It called for sumac, which I didn't have, but after some research I used lemon juice and pepper as a close flavor substitution.  It asked for 8 cups of water and I used half water, half broth.  I also doubled the amount of bulgar as 1/4 cup just did not thicken the soup appropriately.

A fun fact: during my research, I found some very similar recipes calling the soup "Turkish Bride Soup".  I loved the subtle aspect of this soup.  No one flavor stands out -- BUT whatever you do  DO NOT leave the mint out!

To make it extra fancy, you can sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top for garnish.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup
serves 4-6

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 2 1/2 TBLS tomato paste
  • 1 TBLS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 8 cups water/broth
  • 1/2 cup fine cut bulgar
  • 1 TBLS dry mint, crushed
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • opt: pomegranate seeds
-- Saute and onion and bell pepper un a large pot until soft.  7-9 minutes.
-- Stir in tomato paste, cumin, paprika.  2 minutes.
-- Stir in lentils and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
-- Add bulgar and simmer until fully cooked - 10 minutes.
-- Stir in mint, cayenne, and lemon juice.  Season with pepper and salt. 
-- Opt: You can dump everything into the crockpot and cook on high for 4-5 hrs

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