Almost Turkish Recipes

Lentil Soup with Bulgur (Bulgurlu Mercimek Çorbası)

Lentil soups are very common in Turkey. This one is traditionally made with red lentils. However, I like the taste of bulgur more with brown or green lentils. For this one I used French lentils. The peppery taste of French lentils along with dried mint was simply perfect for this winter soup. To try the traditional Turkish recipe, just replace French lentils with red lentils.

3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup French lentils
1/2 cup bulgur (I used fine bulgur, but coarse is fine, too)
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)
6-7 cups of stock
2-3 tbsp dried mint flakes
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp red pepper flakes

-Saute onion with butter until soft.
-Add flour stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir another 1-2 minutes.
-Add lentils, bulgur, stock, and salt.
-Cover and simmer until lentils are cooked for approximately 30 minutes.
-At this point, if you want a smooth soup use a blender.
-Add mint, thyme, and pepper flakes.

Dried mint flakes definitely brightens up this soup remarkably. For the power of dried mint flakes, this recipe is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging which was founded by Kalyn and is hosted this week by Anna's Cool Finds.


  1. This looks and sounds delicious. You have a wonderful collection of recipes here!

  2. Another very nice lentil soup (the second one I read about today). I am intrigued by the combination lentil and bulgur.

  3. It sounds just wonderful. Don't you think there are probably an infinite variety of delicious lentil soups? I made one recently from the unlikeliest cookbook that just turned out fantastic. Love the idea of lentils and mint!

  4. I've never kept dried mint in my pantry, except what I remember to pull from my garden at the end of the season and dry myself. If I look for it in the market, how can I tell what is a good quality product? Color? Leaf size? Type of mint?

  5. Thanks, Lisa!

    Simona-the combination of bulgur and lentils is really good.

    Kalyn-I want to try every single lentil soup recipe. I love all legumes and from your posts I can see that you are like me , too.

    Lydia-that's a good questions. I think color and leaf size are the most important ones. Look for greener leaves. If they look pale green or yellowish, it means they've been dried a long time ago, summers ago. Big leaves are also a good sign. Plus, try to find ones that do not have accumulated dust at the bottom of the container. You want to buy dry mint that was dried in a clean environment, you cannot wash them.

  6. This soup looks wonderful! And I have a box of French lentils on my pantry shelf that I just didn't know what to do with...

  7. Anonymous7:02 AM


    I normally make bulgur wheat and lentils seperate (Indian way).

    this saved one vessel.

    Added chopped celery in it.

  8. This looks wonderful. I love lentil and bulgur soup and recently made the red lentil (Ezo Gelin) variety (and linked to your blog as authority for its use as a hangover cure and availability in kebab houses - thank you!). It's really good. Now I'll have to try it with green lentils. Like you and Kalyn, I love pretty much anything with legumes in it.

  9. What an amazing site you have. I've been looking into Turkish food lately to get ready for a dinner my friends and I will cook together and you site is the best information I've been able to locate! It's extremely well written, the photos are gorgeous, and the food looks delicious. Thanks so much! I can't wait to see which recipes I'll choose. They'll be posted on my site in about a week and I'll let you know how it goes...Thanks again.

  10. Anonymous5:10 PM

    I made this with red lentils and added just a touch of lemon at the end to finish it, and it was DELICIOUS! I will definitely make it again...

  11. I think I died and went to heaven! I'm a Hungarian vegetarian, who must have been Turkish ina previous life, because I just love the food. I've been to Istanbul once, for 10 days, it was amazing.
    Anyway, this soup is cooking on my stove as I am writing this, and I have already linked you on my blog.
    So keep it up, pls, thi sis lovely! And I can't wait for the price of eggplant to drop slightly!
    Best wishes,

  12. Can you tell me what French lentils are? I am in Turkey and I have red and green ones but I'm not sure what the French ones are or if I can find them here...would red or green work?

  13. Hi Jill,
    You cannot find French lentils in turkey plus the original recipe was with green lentils so go ahead get some green lentils.

  14. I used this recipe for my dinner tonight, and it was fantastic! Thank you for posting it!

  15. Burcu,

    Could you please explain why you add flour? Delicious recipe by the way -- I am making it again right now as I write.

  16. Hi Shahnaz,
    Using flour is a very common trick in Turkish cuisine to thicken soups or stews. It's totally ok if you dont use it. However, some people use bean purees for the same effect and it's delicious.

  17. Thanks -- good to know.

    (I sometimes add leftover breakfast oatmeal to soup to thicken it.)

  18. mmmh. I love Lentils. This looks like the best Lentil soup, yet!!!

  19. Anonymous5:15 AM

    Just back from two weeks in Turkey and really enjoying your site!

    Why not fresh mint? Is it better if dried is used?


  20. Seraphine--this soup is usually made during the winter when fresh mint is not available, so i've always had it with dried mint. I agree for some recipes I have to have fresh mint, but not because it's better but fresh and dried mint taste are really different.