This is hands-down my favorite soup ever (and I’m a soup lover), and probably my favorite workhorse Turkish recipe. It’s simple, fast, and adaptable. Did I say kid-friendly? That should have come first. KID-FRIENDLY. With hidden vegetables no less. And cheap. That should have come second. Kid-friendly, cheap, simple, fast, adaptable. It took me longer to describe it than it will take you to make it!
For enough to serve 4 adults as a first course (not the whole meal). Or 6 picky kids.
- Onion (1/2, roughly chopped)
- Butter or oil for sauteing (a pat or so; a couple teaspoons)
- Red lentils about a cup (these really look more orange than red, methinks…)
- Other veggies you want to sneak in. I often thrown in diced potato and carrot. The orangey color of the lentils nicely hides the carrot color, and cooked carrot adds a light sweetness that isn’t overpowering. Particularly when paired with the potato, it’s a great combo. I usually do one mediumish potato and 1-2 carrots.
- Some people add rice. I wouldn’t do that because I prefer this soup pureed, and pureed rice just becomes gluey, esp. if you are trying to save some for another day. But, so many people love the non-pureed, rice-included version that I had to mention it. But I still don’t recommend it. If you want to ignore me, just add the rice when you add everything else, and it will cook just fine. Only add maybe a quarter cup of rice.
- Saute the onion.
- Throw in the red lentils and whatever other veggies you like.
- Cook until everything is soft, 10-15 minutes.
- Puree. Stick blenders work well here, but a regular old upright one does the job as well.
- Squeeze a little lemon on top, to taste. Do try this; it’s delicious.
- Garnish with parsley if you are reeeally fancy.
- Scoop the parsley off the kid’s soup and leave the poor, wilted piles in the middle of the table, to stare at you sadly throughout dinner.
- Field questions like “Is this carrot?!” by silently showing the kids what a red lentil looks like. If you don’t actually say anything, it’s not lying.
I should note that this is one of those soups that every Turkish family seems to have a different favorite way of making. This is my American-Turkish fusion variety. My Turkish family seems to like it and approve. If you want to explore more varieties, just search for Mercimek Corbasi.