Almost Turkish Recipes

Red Lentil Soup (Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası)

for the soup:
1 cup red lentils
1 medium size onion
1 carrot
1 tbsp tomato or pepper paste (or you can do half&half)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed pepper or red peppercorns
6 cups of water

for the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 tbsp sweet or spicy paprika

-With a pressure cooker: Put everything (onion and carrot coarsley chopped) for the soup in the pressure cooker and cook on medium for 15 minutes and then smoothen the soup with a blender
-With a regular pot: Put everything for the soup in a big pot and cook on medium heat until the lentils are soft and mushy, for about 20-25 minutes. Smoothen it with a blender.
-If you don't have a hand blender or if you want to have a chunky soup, chop the onion finely and grate the carrot before you cook them.
-Previous two are, in a way, healthier ways of making this soup. If you want to try the tastier way, sautee the onion with 1 tbsp oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the paste and cook for a couple of minutes, and add the rest of the soup ingredients. From this point on, everything will be the same. Sauteed onion and paste will make quite a difference, though.
-Before serving the soup, heat the oil in a skillet and when it's hot add the paprika. Stir for 5-10 seconds. Pour a couple of scoops of the oil+paprika sauce on the soup bowl.
-Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on top.

optional: sprinkle parsley on top


  1. you even turn a simple soup to such a beautiful thing! I like the idea of adding hot oil right before serving too!

  2. Thanks, Gattina! if you use butter with paprika, it's even tastier

  3. Very nice presentation!

  4. Thanks Brilynn and Sher!

  5. Hi there,

    This post was how I found your site in a Google search on lentil soup. I stuck with the recipe I was semi-using, but added the butter and paprika at the end, which was a beautiful and tasty touch.

    I'm not familiar with Turkish (or almost-Turkish) food, but from the recipes I've tried on your site, I'm really enjoying it. I also like your blog and your cooking style: no-nonsense , hearty and comforting, and with wonderful photos. Thanks for all the good recipes!

  6. Anonymous4:46 AM

    I had Lentil soup in Turkey last week. Loved it and so happy to have found your recipe. Many thanks.

  7. Anonymous5:39 AM

    I'm going to give it a shot, thanks!

  8. I love your website and it has become my cooking bible for Turkish food... I've attempted lots of recipes myself and have been happy with the results. However, I just made this soup because I love eating it over there and was disappointed how it turned out... it kind of had a grainy texture to it and I can't put my finger on why??? Can you give me any ideas on where I went wrong?? Also, I made it a little too spicy ;)

  9. Hi Lorraine,
    I had that grainy texture once, too. I think it was because lentils were not cooked well enough. Apparently some lentils might require longer cooking time than others. Other than that I cannot think of another reason why it would turn out grainy. Was it too thick?

  10. Thanks Burcu, they were organic Turkish lentils I used and I washed them beforehand too. Maybe I didn't drain them well enough or as you said undercooked them - although they were on for around 1/2 hour. It wasn't too thick. Thanks for your help - this is a great way to learn :)

  11. Annie Fannie3:06 PM

    My sister and I used to live in Istanbul and absolutely devoured this soup every chance we got! Thank you for bringing it to us in the states!

    We have not been able to find the spices used in this soup, but by adding a little chili powder, red pepper and flour to this recipe, we have been able to replicate it. Thank you for sharing this wonderful dish!

  12. Annie Fannie5:38 PM

    Add a little chopped mint for a kick. Gives the soup another dimension of flavor!

  13. L. A. M.10:51 PM

    I usually add a bit of cumin and a spoonful of mint.

  14. Müge4:03 PM

    This is a great recipe for someone who has lots of food allergies like me. I like the added mint too.

  15. I made a link to my lentil soup recipe on my blog. I come here for inspiration sometimes. :) Thanks.

  16. You can also add a potato ( in traditional Turkish recipes roux- "flour+butter mix" is used instead). When you use blender potato - of roux, or rice - will create more silkier texture.
    Also in traiditional Turkish recipes, it's always served with lemon

  17. I made this tonight and it's delicious. I'm allergic to onion so i substituted a choice of garlic and sautéed it in oil with the pepper paste first.

  18. Just finished traveling 1 month in Turkey (amazing). Sadly most of my meals were in restaurants and they usually didn't met my expectations. The few times I ate in a family home (or small family rest.) they definitely inspired my palate. Your soups are delicious as well as trying some of the guests ideas. I look forward to trying some other dishes.
    In ref. to the person who had "grainy" lentils. Here in North America we don't use dry lentils/legumes like other countries. The stores stock pile lentils so they get old and the outside hardens which won't absorb the water as easily (organic or not). They require more cooking time. So check your source and don't leave them too long in your pantry.

  19. Anonymous2:55 PM

    I have been making this soup many times thank y