Turkish Red Lentil Soup Recipe
Masoor dal (in its split & skinned form) is my lentil of choice for this particular recipe. Although orange/coral in color in its dried form, when cooked – these lentils magically turn a golden yellow in color. I prefer to soak both the masoor dal & rice (separately) overnight, but you can also soak them in hot water for 4-6 hours prior to use.
Using freshly ground cumin powder in this recipe really makes a world of difference; just toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until lightly brown & fragrant. Let cool slightly & grind to a fine powder – that’s it, easy peasy!
So while this soup may not be authentically Turkish in nature, it is equally delicious ☺!
SPICY TURKISH RED LENTIL SOUP
1 cup orange masoor dal (soaked in enough water to cover)
½ cup Basmati rice (soaked in enough water to cover)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled & diced
1 medium celery stalk, diced (you can use the celery leaves as well)
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp red chili flakes, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1½ tsp dried mint
6 cups vegetable broth (you can also use chicken stock or even water)
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
a little ground cumin powder for garnish
dollop of thick yogurt or sour cream for garnish
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
First, rinse & drain the lentils well. Then do the same with the rice. Set both aside until needed.
In a soup pot on medium heat, add the oil & butter. When hot, add the onions along with the carrot, celery, garlic & bay leaves. Season with salt & pepper, sauté the vegetables until translucent & just softened. Now add in the spices (red chili flakes, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, dried thyme & dried mint). Stir well to combine all of the ingredients and then add in the drained lentils. Sauté for just a few minutes until the lentils are glistening & well coated with all of the aromatics. Next, add in the vegetable broth & bring a gentle boil. Then cover the pot with a tight fitting lid & simmer gently on low for at least 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked & soft.
At this point, if you prefer a smoother/thicker soup consistency – remove the bay leaves & using an immersion blender, puree until desired consistency is reached. If you prefer the soup just as it is, feel free to omit this step.
Next, add in the drained rice. Stir well to combine, bring to a gentle boil, cover & let simmer on low for another 15-20 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked. Lastly, add the lemon juice & adjust any seasonings as needed. Ladle into pretty soup bowls & garnish each bowl individually with a little sprinkle to freshly ground cumin powder, a small dollop of thick yogurt & freshly chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot with warm, toasted pita or naan wedges – enjoy!
Feel free to add some cooked & shredded chicken pieces to the soup, if you prefer. You can also had a handful or two of some chopped baby spinach leaves.
For a spicier kick, garnish with a little red chili flakes. You can also feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of sumac & fresh mint leaves if you prefer, for a more Middle Eastern flavor.
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