Turkish Lentil Soup

This recipe is based on a Turkish recipe called “Mercimek Corbasi,” which is a delicious red lentil soup that is very popular in the Middle East.

This recipe is based on a Turkish dish called “Mercimek Corbasi,” which is a delicious red lentil soup that is very popular in the Middle East.

If the sniffles and sneezes become part of one’s vocabulary, a hot bowl of soup is just what the doctor ordered…and a great prescription for a friend in need would be a dried soup mixture that they can whip up in a flash.

This recipe is based on a Turkish dish called Mercimek Corbasi, which is a delicious red lentil soup that is very popular in the Middle East. While very hearty and healthy, it’s the subtle combination of its spicy and bright flavors that really make this soup stand out. Of particular interest is the addition of the sumac spice, which is a type of edible berry that has a a lemony taste. Sumac is available in most Mediterranean stores and spice shops, but make sure it’s the true, Middle Eastern spice, as the garden variety found in North America is poisonous.

Also, have no fear if you can’t find some of these ingredients. For the dried mint, just open up a bag of herbal mint tea. If you need an alternative to sumac, simply add a teaspoon of dried lemon zest to the mixture. And if dried onions and carrots are hard to find, make your own from scratch by chopping up one medium-sized onion and carrot, and baking them in a single layer on a parchment-lined pan for 4 hours at 175 F / 80 C.

Turkish Lentil Soup

Yield: 2 cups (dry)

Active Time: 5 minute
Total Time: 5 minutes

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tbsp. sumac spice
1.5 tbsp. (0.5 oz/14 g.) sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 c. (6 oz./170 g.) dried red lentils
1/2 c. (0.5 oz./14 g.) dried onions, minced
1/4 c. (0.5 oz./14 g.) dried carrots, minced

1) In a container of your choice, layer each of the ingredients. When ready to enjoy, combine the dried soup mixture with 4 cups of chicken* or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a slice of lemon.

* Chef’s Note: Want to know of a great way to determine a good quality, store-bought chicken stock? If the protein content is at least 10% (5 g. per cup) on the nutrition facts label, then you’ve probably found a winner. One of my favorite brands on the market is “Kitchen Basics” (which, for the record is a completely unsolicited recommendation…they just deserve an honorable mention because their chicken stock is great and well priced!).

Gifting Idea:

A perfect container for this type of food gift would be an 18″ (45 cm) pastry bag, which will showcase each ingredient when added in a layer. To assemble, add each ingredient in the order provided above, and secure it shut with a ribbon of your choice. Add a gift tag with the preparation instructions. Store in a cool, dry place until ready to enjoy.

If this gift is for someone under the weather, have some fun by attaching a label that says "Get well souper soon!" This label idea was inspired by the "Redheaded Crafter" at http://redheadedcrafter.blogspot.com/2012/06/get-well-soup-mix-in-jar.html

If this gift is for someone under the weather, have some fun by attaching a label that says “Get well souper soon!” This cute label idea was inspired by the “Redheaded Crafter.”

20 thoughts on “Turkish Lentil Soup

    • Thanks Susan! And a quick follow-up to your other question in another thread: sumac tastes a lot like lemon. It gives a dish a nice tangy flavor,without too much acidity. I’m not sure why it hasn’t taken on North America by storm yet…it’s really awesome!
      ~ Melissa

  1. Pingback: Get Well Soon Gift Tags | Homemade For Friends

      • Hi Melissa,
        Since I live in South Africa, the drying in the oven is the best solution for me, buying online is not easy here in SA! Please give me some instructions on the drying in the oven, temperature and how long please?
        Thanks for your quick reply!!

      • Hi Funky Doodle Donkey! (Great name by the way ;) )
        You can dry the vegetables in the oven by chopping them up into small pieces, and then baking them in a single layer on a sheet pan for 4 hours at 175 F / 80 C. You may need to stir them once or twice, and do make sure they have dried completely before packaging them up (so more or less time may be required depending on the oven).
        Hope that helps!

      • Thanks Melissa! I am definitely going to make this recipe, I love the idea how you packed it in those cute baker bags!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Thanks for this Mel! Where can you get sumac from? I saw you wrote that it’s like lemon… could I substitute it? And are we talking lemon rind?


    • Hi Naminder! You can get sumac from most Middle Eastern grocery stores (it’s used extensively in the cuisines of Turkey, Syria and Lebanon), or even specialty spice stores such as the Silk Road Spice Merchant (http://www.silkroadspices.ca/products/sumac). I think that sumac really does add the best flavor to this soup, but lemon is a great substitute. In the recipe above, you could add some finely grated lemon zest (aka the colorful yellow part of the lemon rind). Depending on the quality of the lemon, the pith (the white part under the peel) can sometimes be bitter, so that’s why I recommend the zest only. Also, if you make this dish for yourself, sprinkle a little extra sumac or lemon juice on top just before serving - it adds another lemony level of deliciousness to the soup :) Hope it helps and enjoy!
      Melissa :)

  3. That is a great idea for a gift, and so beautifully packaged and photographed. I use a lot of sumac, but I use the North American variety which is not poisonous at all, called Staghorn sumac which is very different from the poisonous white one.

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