Bastions of Turkish cuisine: Both soup (çorba) and legumes most certainly sit comfortably with that description. And in this green lentil soup recipe, we bring the two together to make a hearty Turkish meal.
Way back when, we did a post on the main types of çorba (soup) you see in the eateries 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.
Lentils Are A Staple
As are lentils, of various varieties. When we lived in the UK, although we both loved to cook, lentils were not a regular ingredient in our dishes.
Green lentils (yeşil mercimek) might not look as bright and sunny on your kitchen shelf display as their red counterparts, but, for us, their earthy shades and firm texture make them a firm favourite.
Hearty Green Lentils
If you’re making a lentil dish where you are looking for a lentil that holds its shape whilst packing a bit of flavour, green lentils are the best option.
In the past, we’ve made a spicy red lentil soup (Kırmızı Mercimek Çorbası). This green lentil soup recipe isn’t simply a soup of ‘same-ingredient-different-colour.’ Green lentil soup is hearty and wholesome.
As with our green lentil salad recipe, the lentils are the star of the dish. Rather than acting as a flavouring and thickening agent, they’re visibly present, giving a textured soup.
And then there’s our green lentil soup dressing that we drizzle over the surface just before serving…
Green Lentil Nutrition
Even better, when you’re going to the trouble of making your green lentil soup, you know you’re going to be fuelling your body with lots of nutritional benefit as well as warming, yummy flavours!
Whilst they’re low in calories and low in fat, they’re packed with protein, carbs and fibre. They also contain phytochemicals which protect against illnesses such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
So many dishes we humans love to eat fall into the ‘naughty-but-nice’ category so it’s obviously great to have healthy favourites such as green lentil soup. This foodie treat is also a treat for your body, too.
Right, let’s get down to it and make yeşil mercimek çorbası -Turkish green lentil soup.
Our Turkish Green Lentil Soup Recipe
Although it’s a traditional soup that you’ll see in Turkish recipe books, we’ve never seen green lentil soup served in restaurants in Fethiye.
The first time we had it was a few years ago when a friend’s mum made it for us. Earthy green lentils simmered into a soup – on first viewing, the sight is not immediately aesthetically pleasing.
I remember looking down at it, thinking, ‘What on earth is that?’ Well, let us tell you that green lentil soup unquestionably befits the old proverb, ‘The proof of the pudding is in the eating.’ A polite, tentative first sip from my spoon and I was soon drinking it down eagerly. This soup is a winner!
How To Make Green Lentil Soup
Whilst it’s not necessary for flavours in the soup, we soak our green lentils for an hour or so before cooking. Much better for the environment – and our budget – because soaking reduces the cooking time.
After that, it’s simply a case of sauteing your ingredients for a few minutes before smothering them with hot water and leaving to simmer until your lentils have softened.
Green Lentil Soup Dressing
While your soup is simmering, you can make the dressing to drizzle over the top after serving. 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 often appears automatically. If you’re not, you might have to ask for some as there is sometimes an assumption that foreigners don’t like or want the dressing.
For some soups, sizzling melted butter infused with chilli is poured over just before eating. For others, a garlic dressing similar to this might be served.
This is a dressing of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, vinegar and crushed garlic. If you are a fan of strong flavours, you will love the contrast between the sharpness of the flavours in the dressing and the warming flavours of the green lentil soup.
Green Lentil Soup – Ingredients And Method
Here’s our green lentil soup recipe – yeşil mercimek çorbası (yesh-eel mer-jee-meck chor-ba-si).
Green Lentil Soup Recipe
For The Green Lentil Soup
- 200 g green lentils around 1 coffee mug
- 1 large onion peeled & finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled & crushed
- 1 dessert spoon tomato paste tomato paste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- ½ tbsp olive oil for frying
- salt & pepper for seasoning
For The Dressing
- 1 clove garlic peeled & crushed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ fresh lemon juiced
- 1 tsp vinegar
- ½ tsp black pepper crushed
For The Green Lentil Soup
- First of all, fill your kettle and boil the water.
- Meanwhile, gently heat your olive oil in a deep saucepan and add your onion.
- until your onion starts to sweat and now add your lentils.
- Stir around until the onions and oil have coated your lentils.
- Now add your garlic and spices and stir in.
- Add your salça (tomato paste) and stir in thoroughly
- Turn the heat to high and immediately add 5 mugs of hot water from the kettle (use the same size mug as the one for your lentils).
- Bring to the boil whilst stirring to mix in your tomato paste.
- Now cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check your soup. Taste your lentils to see if they have softened. Add more water if needed.
- Cook for longer, if necessary but don't let your lentils get so soft that they go mushy. Keep them whole.
- When your green lentil soup is ready, use a hand blender and give your soup a couple of pulses. Some of the lentils will blend to make your soup thicker whilst others will remain whole.
For The Dressing
- Place your ingredients together in a small ramekin bowl and stir rigorously until they have blended together.
- Place on the table, ready for serving.
- Serve your soup and drizzle 1-2 teaspoons of the dressing over the top.
- As with all of our recipes, calories are a rough guide only. The calories are for the green lentil soup only and do not include the dressing.
- This green lentil soup recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. We are neither and often use our own chicken or beef stock rather than hot water. This is common in homemade Turkish soups.
- If you want an even more filling soup, Turkish green lentil soup can also have the addition of erişte. This is a hand rolled type of noodle, cut into very short strips. Orzo or vermicelli would make a good alternative. Add 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
And there you have it – Turkish green lentil soup (yeşil mercimek çorbası). As with all soups, you can play around with the amount of water or stock you add to it. It depends how thick you like your soup.
But remember, green lentil soup is supposed to be hearty and wholesome so you don’t want to make it too thin.
Serve your soup with lots of fresh, crusty Turkish bread. Drizzle one or two teaspoons of your dressing over your soup and tuck in.
Turkish Green Lentil Soup Recipe – Afternotes
- The recipe we have done here is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Lots of homemade Turkish soups are made with meat stock, so if, like us, you are a meat eater, you can use a chicken or beef stock in place of water.
- For an even more filling green lentil soup, some Turkish recipes also add erişte. This is a hand rolled noodle cut into small strips. If you can’t get erişte, vermicelli or orzo could be added 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
- And for an even more comforting and traditional soup, do as the Turks do and saute your ingredients in a knob of butter rather than olive oil. Perfect in the depths of winter…