Turkish Red Lentil Soup

5 Mar

turkish red lentil soup

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped, and simmer for 2 – 3 more minutes.
  5. Transfer soup to a blender or use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency.
  6. Add 1 Tbsp sumac and salt, to taste. Serve garnished with additional sumac and mint.

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7 Responses to “Turkish Red Lentil Soup”

  1. charlotte March 5, 2012 at 7:07 pm #

    sigh. ANOTHER lentil recipe I have to try…….

    Looks delicious – I love sumac!

    • Claire March 6, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      Yes, it’s surprising how many tasty things you can do with lentils! The sumac in here definitely makes it unique.

  2. K&B N. March 5, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Lentil Soup is always scrumptious


    • Claire March 6, 2012 at 7:51 am #

      I find it strangely hard to resist, especially in the colder weather – just so filling and delicious!

  3. Francesca November 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    I made this for dinner tonight to rave reviews from the spousal unit. The flavors were amazing. He stirred a dollop of sour cream into his (I loved it as-is) and pronounced the recipe a keeper. The mix of mint and sumac nicely distinguish it from other red lentil soups. Thanks for posting!

    • Claire November 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      Glad to hear it turned out well!

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