Here's our family recipe for red lentil soup with lemon. So easy to make and ready in under 45 minutes! This hearty classic is full of protein thanks to red lentils. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, lentil soup is perfect for cozy days!
🇹🇷 Lentil Soup
This is my grandma's recipe, and without exaggeration, my favorite thing to eat. She makes it multiple times whenever I'm back in Turkey. During our last visit, she had my undivided attention while preparing it. You'll find all her tips & tricks in this post!
It is so simple and easy to make, yet packed with flavor. Red lentil is the star, but aromatics like onion, garlic, and carrot along with the zing from lemon elevate this humble soup. We won't even need to use broth.
Just because this is a red lentil soup recipe from Turkey, don't mistake it for the classic "Turkish lentil soup". The ingredients are identical, and there are recipes instructing to simply blend the entire thing. Blended lentil soup is still delicious, but authentic Turkish mercimek corbasi served in restaurants is strained.
I will share the classic süzme mercimek çorbası recipe with you soon—you can subscribe to our newsletter to be notified. Meanwhile, I highly suggest making this less labor-intensive, quicker, and (in my humble opinion) just as delicious version!
Split Red Lentils
Split red lentils (kirmizi mercimek) are essential for this soup and are luckily the most common variety sold at grocery stores. You may substitute with yellow, green, or black lentils as well as split peas—but the taste and cooking times will vary.
We won't need to soak the red lentils as they cook very quickly. However, if you like a thinner texture, you may soak the lentils and/or wash them in a mesh colander multiple times to remove excess free starch.
The aromatic vegetables (onion, garlic, and carrots) make this dish. If you dislike one particular, simply omit it.
Even though there is a high amount of healthy alliums like garlic and onion, you don't need to worry about the smell at all. They will be fully cooked as you digest them!
My grandma adds potatoes to make this soup extra creamy. When she's out, she uses a small amount of white rice to make up for the lack of starch.
Tomato & Pepper Pastes
There is a lot of tomato and pepper paste used in this recipe. They largely make up our broth.
In case you don't have Turkish pepper paste at home, feel free to substitute it with more tomato paste. Ideally, though, order it right now because pepper paste complements so many dishes!
I love to sprinkle a healthy dose of dried mint and squeeze some lemon, then place a dollop of plant-based yogurt on the side!
You can also make this soup spicy with Aleppo or regular chile flakes. This recipe is very forgiving and will taste delicious with a variety of tweaks!
Depending on how quickly you can chop vegetables—it takes about 45 minutes from start to finish! You'll only need to use one pot.
In a large pan on medium heat, sauté onions with a pinch of salt in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
If using chile flakes, add them at this point.
Add the garlic, carrots, potatoes, tomato & pepper paste and sauté for another 5 minutes along with a pinch more salt. Stir frequently.
Add the lentils and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the room-temperature water with the rest of the salt and bring to a boil on high heat, takes about 5 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes until lentils are cooked. Season with more salt and black pepper if needed.
Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of dried mint. I also love a dollop of plant-based yogurt on top.
This soup can be saved in the refrigerator for up to five days in an airtight container.
You may also freeze it for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator and enjoy within a few days.
If you prefer your soup creamy, blend half or all of it using an immersion blender. The completely blended version will imitate classic Turkish mercimek corbasi which is made by straining lentils.
When you refrigerate blended soup, it will be lumpy. Simply reheat it with more water to smoothen it, then salt as needed.
To make the soup richer, drizzle with more extra-virgin olive oil.
You can also grate the vegetables instead of chopping them for a soupier consistency. What you see above is my grandma's preferred method, served with spinach borek, greens, and fresh figs.
If you prefer your soup creamy, blend a portion or all of it using an immersion blender.
This recipe is made with 6 cups of water per 1 cup of lentils. For a more "soupy" consistency, use 8 cups of water per cup of lentils.
For a more stew-like consistency, use 4 cups of water per cup of lentils.
Split peas are in the legume family as well, but are a completely different plant than lentils. Split peas often take longer to cook. If needed, yellow split peas are the best substitute to use in this soup. Just make sure to cook them completely, likely for longer than 30 minutes.
Mercimek corbasi is Turkish lentil soup. The smooth, lemony soup is the most popular one consumed in the country.
No, authentic Turkish lentil soup (mercimek corbasi) is strained, not blended. Much of the lentil pulp and fiber is discarded in the making of Turkish lentil soup.
🥗 More Recipes
Try these other delicious Turkish classics:
Did you make this red lentil soup recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a star🌟 rating below. This helps me run Aegean Delight and I always appreciate it 🙂Print