When I was younger autumn was the time of year my mum would make all her homemade turkish soups. The flavours of my childhood are all from my mum’s homemade cooking and her soups were always a favourite of mine. Even now that I have my own family and own kitchen, nothing I make is ever the same as my mother’s cooking. I don’t mind though because it means I am lucky enough to enjoy my mum’s cooking from time to time and it gives me the opportunity to experiement and come up with my own recipes and flavours for my own children to remember me by one day!
As I am a healthy eater and always cooking from scratch, I like to always try out new recipes and lately in our house we are enjoying including lentils and legumes in our diet. As the days are becoming cooler, what is more perfect than a warming soup for dinner.
Red lentils are a great source of fibre and very high in protein, which makes them a great substitute for meat if you are vegan or looking for meat-fee meal. You will be surprised how filling a portion of lentils are and as they are low in fat and calories, you can enjoy lentils in a hearty dish and feel satisfied and full knowing you have eaten a very healthy meal. I use red lentils in the soup because red lentils are what my mum used to use in her soups.
Mercimek Çorbası is a traditional soup in Turkish Cuisine. You may have even seen it on the menu on your holidays to Turkey and North Cyprus or even at your local Turkish Restaurant. It is such an easy soup to make and you can add any extra vegetables to it you like. Traditionally it is made with tomatoes and onions, but you can also add celery and carrots to it to bulk it up and for added vitamins and minerals.
This is a very healthy and vegan friendly soup for the whole family to enjoy together on those cold winter days. You can even make this in bulk and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days and reheat when you want some.
A hearty family soup perfect for those cold winter days!
In a large saucepan with a lid, add the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onions - fry for a few minutes until soft (no need to brown)
Add the garlic and celery and fry for another few minutes until just before the garlic starts to brown
Add the red lentils and stir well for a few minutes to warm the lentils
Add all the spices and combine well for a couple more minutes to wake up the spices
Add the tinned chopped tomatoes and stir
In a jug pour in the hot water and add the vegetable bouillon, then add to the saucepan carefully and stir well
Once the soup starts to boil, simmer for around 25 minutes and cover until the lentils are cooked. Stir occasionally and add a few splashes of water if you see the soup is a little too thick
After 20 minutes, season with a little salt and pepper to your tasting and add the lemon juice and stir, cook for a few more minutes covered
Carefully remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside with the lid on for 10 minutes or so for the soup to cool slightly
In a food processor, carefully transfer the soup using a spoon or ladle, and whizz up for 30 seconds at a time until the soup is creamy (If you see it's a little thick, add a few splashes of hot water and this will loosen it)
Serve immediately or cover and cool then store in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Just make sure it is hot and cooked through when reheated.
Enjoy with a dollop of Greek/Turkish yoghurt on top and some coriander leaves and enjoy with a side of warm bread to mop it all up!
I hope you like my Mercimek Çorba recipe, do let me know if you try it! Don’t forget to check out some of my other healthy recipes here.