Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spicy Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup

This is one of my favorite recipes for red lentil soup. While visiting Istanbul in April 2010 my daughters and I attended a cooking class at Cooking Alaturka ( This English-language cooking school is run by Eveline Zoutendijk who together with her chef Feyzi introduces novices and experienced cooks alike to Turkish cuisine. It is a very hands-on experience - we prepared a five-course meal starting with a spicy red lentil soup, followed by zucchini patties with herbs and cheese, green beans in olive oil and lamb stew in tomato sauce on smoky eggplant puree. For dessert we served walnut-stuffed figs in syrup. 

We spent several hours preparing the five-course meal, then sat down at a nicely set table and enjoyed the fruits of our labor complemented by a nice selection of wines. 

Spicy red lentil and bulgur soup with dried mint and red pepper (serves 6)


1 1/4 cups red lentils, washed, plus more water for boiling

1tbsp butter and 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tsp Aleppo pepper (a Turkish flaked red pepper which is a bit oily and has a slightly damp texture)
1/2 - 1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 - 1 tbsp bellpepper paste (if you can't find the paste add an additional 1/2 -1 tbsp of tomato paste)
4-5 cups fresh chicken stock or water (Add only 4 cups of stock if you like a thicker soup. You can always add more stock if desired).
1/4 cup coarse bulgur

  • Cook lentils in a medium-sized pot with water for about 15 - 20 minutes until they fall apart (ensure that lentils are covered by at least 3/4 inch of water). Skim off any foam from the surface as lentils are cooking. When ready, drain lentils and set aside.
  • Melt butter with the oil in another pot which should be large enough to hold the soup. Add 1 tsp all-purpose flour stirring constantly to make a light roux. Add dried mint, Aleppo pepper and the tomato and bellpepper pastes. Stir mixture constantly so that it will not burn. 
  • Add cooked lentils and chicken stock or water. 
  • Bring soup to a boil. When boiling, add bulgur and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for another 10 - 15 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges and extra Aleppo pepper on the side.

Recipe courtesy of Cooking Alaturka

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