I’ve been really enjoying red lentils lately. They fall apart when cooked which can help thicken soups and stews, and they’re great at absorbing flavors. They’re a fundamental piece of this Turkish red lentil soup which tastes amazingly complex for a dish with so few ingredients. I haven’t eaten a lot of Turkish food, and I was skeptical at first of the combination of paprika, cumin, mint, and sumac, but the flavors work perfectly together. Rich and hearty but with a freshness from the herbaceous mint and tart sumac, this soup would be a great start to a meal or a filling meal in and of itself.
Turkish Red Lentil Soup (adapted from eCurry)
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils
- 6 cups stock
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped*
- 1 Tbsp sumac**
- salt, to taste
*Or substitute 1 1/2 Tbsp ground dried mint.
**Ground sumac has a sour taste and can be purchased at Middle Eastern markets or online.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add 1 onion, diced, and sautee until translucent and starting to darken, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Add 3 cloves garlic, minced, 1/2 Tbsp paprika, 1/2 Tbsp cumin seeds, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, and sautee until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in 2 Tbsp tomato paste and 1 1/2 cups red lentils, then add 6 cups stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, and let simmer until the lentils are cooked through, about 20 – 30 minutes.
- Stir in 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped, and simmer for 2 – 3 more minutes.
- Transfer soup to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.
- Add 1 Tbsp sumac and salt, to taste. Serve garnished with additional sumac and mint.