Mercimek Çorbasi – Lentil Soup
This soup is lovely as a winter warmer – filling and comforting. It’s a classic, well loved Turkish dish. In the rural parts of Turkey and in the town lokantas (the basic eateries) people often have soup for breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner!
To make Mercimek Corbasi it’s best to soak the lentils and make the chicken stock the day before cooking. Ideally the lentils should be pre-soaked for 12 hours, but if that is not possible, make sure you rinse them well under cold running water.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 large chopped onion
1 large carrot
1 mug of red split lentils
6 mugs of chicken stock (you can use water with a stock cube, but the really delicious taste is only achieved using long boiled chicken stock. A perfect stock can be made from the leftover bones and skin of a Sunday roast chicken, boiled with an onion and a carrot!)
Large knob of butter (don’t skimp and don’t use margarine!)
Salt, pepper and cumin to season
Peel and chop the onion and carrots finely. Fry in the butter until they start to soften, but are not browned. (The onions should look transparent). Add the lentils and stock, with some seasoning (go easy at this stage). Simmer over a gentle heat until the lentils are soft. Blend in a food blender (make sure you leave it to run for quite a while, it is important that the soup is really smooth). Season with salt, pepper and cumin to taste. For an extra flourish, add a sprinkle of paprika to the bowl.
Serve steaming hot with wedges of lemons. Squeeze liberally in to the soup to taste. Some nice crusty bread makes a perfect accompaniment!
Once made, Mercimek Çorbası can be kept cool in the fridge for several days and consumed at your leisure with delight and satisfaction.