Turkish Food – Yeşil Mercimek Corbası (Green Lentil Soup)

Way back when, we did a post on the main types of çorba (soup) you see in the lokantas of Fethiye. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, çorba is always on the menu in Turkey, and it’s on the menu at our little abode quite a lot, too. Yesterday, I made yeşil mercimek çorbası (green lentil soup) for the first time ever and it was really good, so it’s another foodie post today.

A Turkish Recipe For Yeşil Mercimek Çorbası

Although it’s a traditional soup that you’ll see in Turkish recipe books, we’ve never seen it served in any of the lokantas in Fethiye. The first time we had it was a few years ago when a friend’s mum made it for us. I remember looking down at it, thinking, ‘What on earth is that?’ It’s a soup where you have to taste it to enjoy it – it’s not immediately aesthetically pleasing! ‘Green lentils’ is a polite name for them I think. They’re more of a sludgy colour – and so is your soup once it’s made. Trust us though, it’s gorgeous! Here’s how to make it:

  • Finely chop one onion and sweat it gently in a good glug of olive oil for a few minutes.
  • Add one clove of crushed garlic, a sprinkling of paprika and cumin, salt and black pepper and saute for a few more minutes just to let the onion take on the flavours.
  • Next, add one coffee mug of green lentils and stir for about 5 minutes.
Green Lentils In The Pan

Saute your ingredients before adding water

  • Now, add 4 mugs of hot water, stir, bring to the boil and then cover and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft. (You might need to add more water so just check occasionally. I think I ended up using around 6 mugs when I made it).

While your soup is simmering, you can make the garnish to serve it with. If you go to a lokanta in Fethiye, you sometimes get a separate dressing to add to your soup. (If you’re with Turkish friends, this usually appears automatically. If you’re not, you might have to ask for it as there is sometimes an assumption that foreigners don’t like or want the dressing.) We’d never even thought of adding dressings to soup before we came to Turkey but now, we don’t eat soup without at least adding lemon. The dressing you get in lokantas is genius – usually a mixture of vinegar, lemon and garlic. It adds a great twist to your soup and it goes perfectly with yeşil mercimek çorbası.

To Make The Soup Dressing

Turkish Soup Dressing

The perfect çorba dressing

  • In a small bowl, add a small clove of crushed garlic, the juice of half a lemon, a glug of vinegar, a glug of olive oil, pinch of salt and crushed black pepper.
  • Stir it all up and look at it longingly till your soup is ready.
Green Lentil Soup (Yeşil Mercimek Çorbası)

Yeşil mercimek çorbası

Once your soup is ready, spend a couple of minutes mashing the lentils. If you have a blender, you can use this – but don’t blend it completely. It’s nice to have a few whole lentils bobbing about in there. Serve it into bowls, drizzle a couple of teaspoonfuls of dressing over the top and – of course – sprinkle red hot chilli flakes over the top, too. (Optional!)

Barry got some amazing bread from the bakery yesterday. It’s studded with black olives and went perfectly with the soup. We’ve got soup and bread left over so no prizes for guessing what’s on the lunch menu today. Can’t wait!

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  1. That soup sounds wonderful!! You measure like I do 🙂 [email protected]

  2. Well, a lot of it is down to personal taste isn’t it. I actually like loads of cumin but I know a lot of people don’t. I tend to throw things in and see what happens. 🙂

  3. I love love love lentil soup. I get sick of making it the same way so it’s great to get a new take on it!

  4. Thanks. We love lentil soup, too. Addictive isn’t it?! This green lentil soup is a first (for making, not tasting) and we’ll be making it again.

  5. JayP
    As a Veggie I usually steer clear of soups as I tend to think they’d use an ‘animal’ stock.
    Do you think I should chance it next week when I get to Ovacik? (Or just stick to Our Place in Hisaronu).

  6. Hi GW, you’re not by any chance the GW from Trip Advisor are you?

    With regards to the soup, loads of recipes I’ve seen do use chicken stock (which seems odd when you’re making a veggie soup!)We have a veggie friend and she can taste meat stock straight away if it’s present – which has happened. Maybe you could get the waiter to ask the chef for the ingedients. When our veggie friend comes out to see us, she’s happier in the lokantas because they’re usually quite happy to tell you what’s in the food if you ask them. Is Our Place a vegetarian restaurant?

  7. Yep, it’s me. One and the same.
    Our Place is 95% Veggie (I think they have one animal option). The food is excellent and the owner (Yusuf) is a real character who we met when we first came to Hisaronu 20 years ago (and then last year when we returned after a 19 year hiatus).

  8. Well, thanks GW for mentioning us on Trip Advisor. We didn’t even know they had the forum stuff going on.
    Hope you’re not offended by our more ‘meaty’ posts. 🙂 We never use meat stock in any our veggie soups though because we have a lot of veggie mates and it doesn’t make sense to add meat flavours to what should be veg flavours, does it?

  9. Thank you for posting this recipe. The lentil soup looks and sounds delicious! I’ve had the Turkish lentil dish with ground beef, but never the soup. I will try this one!

  10. And we’ve never tried the lentil dish with ground beef Sevgi. We’ll have to look that one up and give it a go sometime.

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