Simply Lebanese

Turkish Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbası)

Turkish Lentil Soup
  • Prep Time
    15 mins.
  • Cook Time
    40 mins.
  • Serving
    6
This creamy vegan lentil soup is my favorite to enjoy at Turkish restaurants. It is loaded with vegetables and so flavorful from all the spices and dried mint. It is delicious served with some crusty bread and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Turkish Lentil Soup

Anytime I go out for some Turkish cuisine, no matter what time of the year it is, I always have to order their red lentil soup, known as Mercimek Çorbası. This soup reminds me of the Lebanese shawrabat adas (Yellow Lentil Soup.) It is very similar in taste and texture but, with a different flavor profile from the mint, tomato paste and fresh lemon juice.

Mercimek Çorbası is a very popular soup in Turkish cuisine. This lentil soup has been a staple in Turkey for centuries. Lentils are incredibly popular throughout the entire Mediterranean. There are so many different types. The red lentils are what is used in this dish. They come red/orange in color and turn yellow once cooked. They can be found at almost all grocery stores.

Turkish Lentil Soup

How to make Mercimek Çorbası

When cooking with red lentils, you have to very thoroughly wash the lentils until the water runs almost clear. You want to remove most of the starch. The soup starts out by sauteing the vegetables in some olive oil. Once slightly seared, the tomato paste and red pepper paste are added.

Red pepper paste is essentially crushed, and dried red bell peppers until they are made into a paste, similar to tomato paste. It is quite popularly used in Turkish dishes, but, also in Middle-eastern dishes. If you cannot find this paste, you can omit it. Sautéing the red pepper paste along with the tomato paste really helps bring out the flavor. From here, you add the washed lentils along with water or chicken broth and cook until the lentils are soft.

Almost every time I have had this soup, it was very smooth but, I also have had it once or twice unblended. So, feel free to use an immersion blender to blend the soup, keep it as is, or, half-blend it like I do for a semi-smooth soup.

How to serve this soup

Typically, Mercimek Çorbası is served with warm, crispy Turkish pide bread. Both are very commonly enjoyed during Ramadan in Turkey. So, this soup has become on regular rotation for my family during Ramadan. The lentil soup is served with some fresh lemons on the side which, really takes the soup to the next level.

Turkish Lentil Soup

My kids also love this soup, so it is very family friendly. It is loaded with protein and iron from the lentils and vegetables. This soup can be vegan or not by just easily omitting the chicken broth. It is also quite filling! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

STEP 1

Prepare your vegetables by finely dicing the onion. Dice the washed and peeled carrot and potato into ½ inch cubes. Crush the garlic.

Turkish Lentil Soup

STEP 2

Heat up the olive oil in a medium-sized pot.

Turkish Lentil Soup

Sauté the onion until golden.

Turkish Lentil Soup

Add the carrot and potato and sauté for a few minutes before adding the crushed garlic. Sauté for one more minute.

STEP 3

Add the tomato paste and red pepper paste and cook for one minute.

STEP 4

Wash the lentils very thoroughly until the water runs almost clear. Add the washed lentils to the pot and top with six cups of water (or chicken broth). Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until lentils are cooked through.

Turkish Lentil Soup

STEP 5

Season the soup with salt, cumin, and white pepper.

Turkish Lentil Soup

STEP 6

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to your preference.

Turkish Lentil Soup

I like to blend it about halfway to keep some texture.

Turkish Lentil Soup

STEP 7

Add the dried mint and simmer for a few minutes.

Turkish Lentil Soup

Serve with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and crusty bread.

Turkish Lentil Soup
Turkish Lentil Soup

Turkish Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbası)

This creamy vegan lentil soup is my favorite to enjoy at Turkish restaurants. It is loaded with vegetables and so flavorful from all the spices and dried mint. It is delicious served with some crusty bread and a squeeze of lemon juice.
4.73 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Turkish
Keyword: Lentil Soup, Mercimek Çorbası, Soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 285kcal
Author: Iman

Ingredients

  • cups Red Lentils
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Potato
  • 2 tb. Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. Red Pepper Paste
  • 3 tb. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 tsp. Cumin
  • ½ tsp. White Pepper
  • 1 tb. Dried Mint
  • 6 cups Water or Chicken Broth

Instructions

  • Prepare your vegetables by finely dicing the onion. Dice the washed and peeled carrot and potato into ½ inch cubes. Crush the garlic.
  • Heat up the olive oil in a medium-sized pot. Sauté the onion until golden. Add the carrot and potato and sauté for a few minutes before adding the crushed garlic. Sauté for one more minute.
  • Add the tomato paste and red pepper paste and cook for one minute.
  • Wash the lentils very thoroughly until the water runs almost clear. Add the washed lentils to the pot and top with six cups of water (or chicken broth). Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes until lentils are cooked through.
  • Season the soup with salt, cumin, and white pepper.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the soup to your preference. I like to blend it about halfway to keep some texture.
  • Add the dried mint and simmer for a few minutes. Serve with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and crusty bread.

Notes

Serve with some freshly squeezed lemon juice and crusty bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 778mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2077IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 7mg

    Owner

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    Recipe Reviews

    • Nur

      There is actually two different type of mercimek çorbası in Turkish cuisine and yours looks like more ‘süzme’ one, this one does not have mint or tomato paste in general but of course it is a matter of choice. Also you have to filter the mixture when it’s cooked so you can have a smooth texture.

      • Iman

        Thank you for informing me! I do not know too much about Turkish dishes. Yes, but I actually do not like it too blended but rather the lentil texture.

    • David

      5 stars
      Thank you for this recipe! Can I just ask why you add the cumin and co towards the end rather than earlier? Thanks!

      • Iman

        No reason in particular, if you prefer you can add it earlier!

    • Maria

      Hi!! your recipe looks really good!
      I was wondering if leaving out the tomato and onion would make a big difference?
      I can’t really eat these as I have bad GERD.

      Thank you in advance for reading my comment.

      Kind Regards,

      Maria

      • Iman

        Hi!
        Thank you, and yes, you can leave out the tomato and onion and still get a delicious soup! The taste will differ slightly, however, it is the cumin, dried mint and squeeze of lemon that give this soup its distinct taste so, it should still taste great. Enjoy.

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