’Ezo the Bride’ (Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup)

Ezo Gelın

Ezo the Bride is a famous figure in Turkish folklore. Her real name was Zöhre Bozgeyik and she was born in 1909 in southeastern Anatolia. She married a local musician and, following the regional Berdel tradition, her brother married her husband’s sister. A few years later, her brother divorced his wife, which meant that although Ezo dearly loved her husband, she had to follow local custom and separate from him. Beautiful Ezo was forced to travel to Syria and marry a distant relative and, according to a popular song, she died there in 1956 of sorrow and homesickness. Her deathbed wish was for her remains to be buried in her home village, Dokuzyol. This soup comes from a happy time in her life.


  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) beef stock
  • 2 onions
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (to make your own)
  • 1 tablespoon capsicum (pepper) paste
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 110 g ( oz/½ cup) medium-grain rice
  • 205 g ( oz/1 cup red lentils
  • 90 g ( oz/½ cup) fine bulgur
  • 2 mint sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Paprika Butter

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped (optional)


Put the beef stock in a pot and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onions. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes until soft. Dissolve the tomato and capsicum pastes in 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of the beef stock, add the hot paprika, and then stir into the cooking onions. Pour the onion mixture into the simmering beef stock.

Rinse the rice, red lentils and bulgur, then add to the pot. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Ladle the soup into four bowls.

Chop the mint. To make the paprika butter, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the paprika (and finely chopped chillies if you want extra heat), and sizzle for 1 minute.

Top each bowl with chopped mint and drops of paprika butter, and serve.