Turkish soups – çorbalar: Certainly one of the bastions of traditional Turkish cuisine.
From famous classics to regional favourites, Turkish soups are enjoyed all over the country.
Turkish Soups For Any Time Of Day
From the very first time we holidayed in Fethiye, soup was a feature.
Whilst we wilted in the intense heat and humidity, we looked on in wonder as we saw Turkish people slurping down bowls of soup – at all times of day!
In Turkey, people have no problem with enjoying soup for breakfast, lunch or as a main course.
And it’s not a comfort food reserved for the cold winter months. Whatever the temperature, people will tuck into a bowl of warm soup!
And, as was the case for the first time we tried one of the famous Turkish soups, it’s often enjoyed at the end of a night out – something to settle the stomach before hitting home and bed!
Because most towns and cities will have a local çorbacı (soup kitchens) or lokanta that stays open 24 hours.
Turkish soups rule!
Even for New Year’s Eve celebrations, many local Turkish restaurants will have a set meal on offer with various courses.
One of these courses is served after midnight, just as the festivities are winding down. That course is, naturally, a bowl of soup.
Turkish Soups For All
Turkish soups have been created and eaten for hundreds of years.
From chefs creating soups in the Ottoman kitchen, to poorer people making sure they were making the absolute most of their livestock and crops; creating soups for warmth and nourishment.
If there are foods that bring us all together – that we can all experience, regardless of background – soup is surely one of those foods.
Most Popular Turkish Soups
There are so many kinds of soup in Turkey. And many of them are listed in our Turkish soup recipes list below.
But we haven’t made them all…yet!
When we were writing this article, we decided to ask our followers on Facebook to tell us what their favourite Turkish soup is.
We had an idea what the most popular soup would be. And we were right.
Lentils won the day!
Mercimek çorbası (Turkish lentil soup made with red or yellow lentils) was closely followed by ezogelin çorbası (made with red lentils, bulgur wheat and sometimes rice).
You can make our spicy red lentil soup (kırmızı mercimek çorbası) by following the recipe in the list below.
And The Other Favourite Turkish Soups
Whilst not wanting to go out on a limb and state an absolute favourite Turkish soup, we do love a balık çorbası – fish soup.
This is no doubt partly because of the old memories it conjures up; arriving in Istanbul early morning after a long bus journey and heading straight to Karaköy fish market for a bowl of fish soup by the shores of the Golden Horn.
Look out for balık çorbası in fish markets and seafood restaurants.
A regional and hearty soup we also love, especially in the winter months, is a Gaziantep beyran çorbası (a spicy lamb soup).
Check out our beyran soup recipe in the list or Turkish soup recipes below.
It’s perhaps fair to say that if you’re travelling or holidaying in the country, some Turkish soups might appear to be more ‘accessible’ than others when it comes to whetting the appetite.
Turkish soups are ‘soups for the soul’ in that, more often than not, they are made from beef, lamb or chicken stock.
And then comes the star ingredient, whatever that may be…
As well as the soups mentioned above, other popular Turkish soups you’re likely to see in lokantas and the local çorbacı (soup kitchen) include:
- Chicken soup – Tavuk çorbası: Perfect food when you’re feeling under the weather. Lots of health benefits to good chicken soup. Sometimes, you’ll see ‘terbiyeli tavuk çorbası‘ on the menu. This is a chicken soup where the sauce is thickened and soured with egg yolk, lemon juice and flour. Yummy. Our recipe for this is in the list below.
- Brain soup – Beyin çorbası: The first Turkish soup we ever tried (blame the night out) and not our favourite – but popular amongst many people we know.
- Tripe soup – İşkembe çorbası: Not for us. My grandparents would have loved this soup.
- Skull soup – Kelle paça çorbası: This is made from the meat around the skull of the sheep or cow.
- Foot soup – Ayak paça çorbası: not a good translation. This is a soup made from the lower leg. A lot of the time, both head and leg meats are used to make the soup.
- Wedding soup – Düğün çorbası: This is a soup you are likely to come across should you be fortunate enough to be invited to a village Turkish wedding. It’s also now eaten in homes on cold winter days. Lamb or beef – and yoghurt – are the order of the day for this Turkish soup.
We should repeat here that a lot of Turkish soups are made with beef, lamb or chicken broth – including the ones that might seem, at first sight, to be suitable for anyone looking for vegetarian and vegan dishes.
If this is an issue for you, check with the restaurant that the soup is made with vegetable broth or stock before you order it.
- Tarhana soup – Tarhana çorbası: There isn’t really a translation for this special soup. All is explained in our article and recipe, linked to in our list of Turkish soup recipes below. It’s another favourite for us on cold days.
- Yoghurt / Highland soup – Yayla Çorbası: The ‘yayla’ are the highlands of the country. This is a comforting soup made from yoghurt and rice. We love it!
- Tomato soup – Domates çorbası: Turkish tomato soup is often garnished with grated cheese. Perfect for some. Annoying for others – long strings of cheese stretching from bowl to spoon. We prefer şehriyeli domates çorbası – tomato soup with vermicelli. Get our recipe from the list below.
- Green lentil soup – Yeşil mercimek çorbası: We love this soup. Green lentils hold their shape in our recipe for this soup in the list below.
- Dark / Black cabbage soup – Karalahana çorbası: Robust dark green black cabbage (kale) is often seen in the Black Sea region, as is this hearty soup for the area’s cold winter days. We’re talking kale as the main ingredient – with potatoes, beans and tomato paste. You can sometimes find karalahana on the stalls of local Turkish markets in winter.
There are so many delicious soup recipes around Turkey. And if you are travelling around the country, you’ll come across a variety of soups that are particular to that region.
The list above is just some of the popular Turkish soups that tend to pop up in most restaurants and soup kitchens.
How To Eat Your Turkish Soup
We’d hazard a guess that the Turkish population must be right up there amongst the top devourers of salads!
Just about any meal on a table has a side salad – however elaborate or simple.
And Turkish soup is no different!
Something that was alien to use when we first came here. Salad and soup? No.
But we learned to love the combination eventually.
These days, in tough economic times, if there’s a rare occasion when some semblance of ‘fresh crispy crunch’ doesn’t arrive with the soup, it’s an understandable sign of the times. But also a disappointment.
Because this is part of the Turkish soup experience – and the price.
Fresh crusty bread or freshly baked flatbreads, a basic (or not so basic) salad, fresh whole chillies, always fresh lemon wedges.
For some Turkish soups, the çorbacı will pour melted chill butter over the top. For others, a dressing will be served (see our green lentil soup recipe, for example).
Soup served, hit the condiments. Salt and black pepper, dried mint, chilli flakes (hot red pepper flakes), kekik (dried thyme).
A squeeze of lemon…
If your mouth isn’t watering right now…
Our Turkish Soup Recipes
Time to hit the kitchen and follow some of our Turkish soup recipes.
We’ll be adding to this list as we delve further into the world of soup creations.
As well as the soups mentioned above in our article, here are our Turkish soup recipes that celebrate pulses and vegetables.
It is common in Turkish cuisine to use meat stocks and that's what we do in some of our recipes.
Of course, you can swap these out for vegetable stock or simply water.
Getting to the meat of the matter.
Most Turkish soups are about making sure nothing goes to waste and getting maximum flavour. Stocks and broths are usually made from animal bones.
When it comes to meaty Turkish soups, you can expect meats you're familiar with such as chicken and lamb.
But, as we said above, offal and other parts of the animal you might not have tried previously are also likely to be present on the menu of local soup kitchens and lokantas.
We hope you enjoyed your journey into the world of Turkish soups.
Be sure to try some of them when you’re in the country. And also look out for regional soups, too.
In the meantime, cook your own soups at home from the soup recipes above and follow these up with meze plates and main dishes from our list of Turkish recipes.