Spicy Red Lentil Soup

Kırmızı mercimek çorbası

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

Lentil and bean soups are usually quite thick and are often flavoured with pieces of lamb. This spicy lentil soup is made in Antakya and Iskenderun, near the Syrian border. Diced potatoes and fresh peas can also be added to the ingredients.


  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon kuyrukyağı (sheep’s tail fat), clarified or ordinary butter
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • 8 oz/225 g lamb or beef scraps, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 2 teaspoons tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 oz/90 g small red lentils, washed
  • 2 pints/1.2 litres lamb or beef stock
  • 2 dried chillies
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • small bunch of parsley and mint, roughly chopped


  • Brown the onions and carrot in the fat. Stir in the spices, garlic and meat and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, sugar and lentils and pour in the stock. Stir well and bring the liquid to the boil. Pop in the chillies, cover the pan and simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the lentils have pulped up and thickened the soup.
  • Remove the chillies, and season to taste. Swirl in half the chopped herbs and sprinkle the rest over the top. Serve with yogurt.