Almost Turkish Recipes

Collard Greens Soup (Karalahana Çorbası)

The apartment that I lived in Ankara was on the first floor of one of those old 4 story buildings with just two apartments on each floor and a back yard that the residents didn't care about. A month after I moved, I remembered that the building had a back yard and I looked over to check it out. Among various things that you can find in the back yards of apartment buildings in Turkey are gazebos with retired people gossiping about neighborhood people, junk, flower beds, people playing "okey," a tile-based game similar to Rumikub, or people drinking tea and eating sunflower seeds. Therefore, I was quite surprised when I saw collard greens in my building's back yard. And I am not talking about two or three plants here; I am talking about endless rows and rows of collard greens. Collard greens is an indispensable component of the Black Sea cuisine in Turkey, and it is difficult to find them outside that province. So I immediately knew there was a homesick Karadenizli (a person from Black Sea) in the building who apparently had a big craving for collard greens. I was right; our concierge Pakize was from Trabzon and capable of consuming a back yard worth of collard greens with her husband in 2-3 months.

The discovery of garden of collard greens intrigued me to cook with them. The next winter I borrowed a bunch of collard greens time to time from Pakize and made collard greens soup based on her instructions. Later, I had this soup a couple of times at different seafood restaurants, but they were not even close to Pakize's recipe. This soup, a specialty of Black Sea, is just perfect for cold winter nights. It has greens, beans, and corn in it; what else can you ask for?        

1 large bunch collard greens
1/2 cup dry white beans (cannellini or northern beans)
1/2 cup cracked corn (you can find cracked corn at Middle Eastern or organic food stores or feeder stores) OR 1/2 cup coarse grits if you cannot find cracked corn
1/4 cup corn flour
7-9 cups of water
3-4 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red hot pepper flakes (in traditional recipes you cannot find spice for this soup, but I think hot peppers, hot pepper flakes, or sauces makes this soup even better)

-A night before, put beans in a pot with 3 cups of water. First bring to a boil, then turn it off. Cover and soak overnight.
-The next day cook the beans until soft. (Or use 1 can of beans)
-Wash collard greens well, discard bad leaves and leaf tops. Chop the stems finely. Cut the leaves first into stripes, then into edible-size squarish pieces.
-Boil 7-8 cups of water in a big pot.
-Add collard greens and cracked corn into the boiling water. Cook until soft: ~20-25 minutes.
-Add beans.
-Add corn flour and keep stirring constantly while adding it to prevent lumping.
-Turn the heat to low-medium and cook for almost half an hour to let the soup thicken stirring every 3-45 minutes.
-Heat butter in a small pan. When it's hot but nit burning, add paprika. Let sizzle for a couple of seconds.
-Serve the soup with a spoon or two of butter and paprika on top.


  1. Anonymous1:37 PM

    en sevdigim corbalardan birisidir, nefis gorunuyor.

  2. I thought karalahana was that purple cabbage stuff. Is there another word in Turkish for collard greens? Also, could you tell me what that cracked corn would be called in Turkish? I want to see if I can find it at the supermarket here in Istanbul. I would love to try this recipe!

  3. Hi Jill, "karalahana" is sometimes called "pancar" but in Black Sea region, not in Istanbul. And it makes things confusing since "pancar" literally means beetroot. That purple stuff is called "kirmizi lahana." And cracked corn is called "yarma misir," they may not carry it at the grocery store but they may know where you can find it.

  4. That's a very nice soup. I have never cooked collard greens and I have eaten them only a few times. I like the story of the backyard turned into a field of collard greens.

  5. Dear Almostturkish, your collard greens soup looks amazing. I thought it was so cool how you found them in your back yard and then one day decided to make something divine with them. "Wild Thing", you make my heart sing! Loved and saved this recipe. I shall revisit you soon. Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers, Gaby
    You can always visit me at

  6. I made your karalahana soup today. It turned out to be delicious. I had tried other recipes before but this one was by far the best! Thank you so much for sharing this very healthy and hearty soup recipe.

  7. hopeforbetterdays-I'm with you; I've tried a lot of "blend" recipes, too. Collard greens can be quite unappealing if not cooked the right way. What can I say, "cok yasa Pakize abla"; she nailed it.

  8. Bu yil benim icin karalahanaya isinma yili oldu diyebilirim. Senin tarfinde cok lezzetli gorunuyor. Ilk firsatta denemek istiyorum. Eline saglik.

  9. Interesting post and how lucky for you that you found someone to teach you how to make this soup the authentic way and with the fresh ingredients at your doorstep!

  10. Anonymous9:03 AM

    Even for someone, who has never eaten karalahana before and quite resistant to it, you made my mouth water! Thanks for the recipe and I will try it soon!

    BTW, where did you get the cracked corn in Athens?


  11. Wow, I really love spicy foods and It seems that this dish is oozing with spices.

    I would say that exotic spices should be placed to presentable spice rack, so that everyone can appreciate not only the flavor but also the way it looks.

    Thank you for posting this and for including the ingredients and its procedure.

  12. I have just recently found your blog, and all I have to say is fabulous!!!

  13. Anonymous11:45 AM

    I am from Black Sea region and as a "karadenizli" I love everything made from collard greens.I have a version of this soup.I use canned black beans,white hominy and collard greens.this version is a great time saver, in 30 min on the table.

  14. Hello Almostturkish,

    Thanks for this inspiring soup recipe!My family would be happy to see something different for once other than chicken noodle soup!


  15. I once made karalahana corbasi using a recipe from a Turkish cookbook and it was a big hit. Loved its taste! Will try your recipe next time. So glad they sell collard greens here in Cali.

  16. Hi Burcu, First to say: I love your blog and your recipes! My husband is Karadenizli, I'm from the States and we live in southern Chile, where good ingredients are difficult to find. Cracked corn, for instance, do you have a suggestion for what might be used as a substitute? Eliniz saglik.

  17. Collard Greens Soup looks so healthy and yummy, and based on the ingredients, almost all of the spices are found in spice rack.

  18. Anonymous4:25 AM

    bizim "kara lahana" Wikipedia'da Kale diye geçiyor siz ise Collard Green demişsiniz. Eğer Collard kara lahanaysa o zaman kale'nin türkçesi nedir ki?

  19. Anonymous8:35 AM

    Kale, kara lahana olmali. Karadeniz'den gelen bir aile, kale'i gorunce cok sevinmislerdi, kara lahana burada da varmis diye.

    1. Kale ve collard greens ayni familyadan geliyor ama Turkiye'de "kale" yani kivircik yaprakli kara lahana pek yaygin degil. Genelde yetistirilen ve tuketilen kara lahana burada "collard greens' olarak bilinendir.

  20. Now we are expecting a "çakıldak dolması" from you... :)

    1. :) Do you have a solid recipe for that?