Spicy Turkish Red Lentil Soup
Nutritious, aromatic, and insanely inexpensive, mercimek çorbası is my new go-to winter warmer.
1 hour 10 minutes
Welcome to One Pot Bangers, Benjamin Kemper’s weeknight cooking column, where you’ll find our freshest, boldest ideas that require just one pot, skillet, or sheet pan. Busy week? We’ve got you covered with these low-effort, high-reward recipes from around the globe.
My bestie Taylor and I have a funny food tradition. When I visit her in Berlin, I plop down my bags and we head straight to Imren Grill for tea and Turkish lentil soup. Not döner, schnitzel, or currywurst, mind you—it’s the humble linsensuppe we crave. Those lunches always remind me of the healing power of food. The comfort of black tea sucked slowly through a sugar cube. The deep, primal pleasure of communing over steaming broth.
Yet mercimek çorbası (the soup's Turkish name) is also an epiphany in itself—rustic, spicy, and swirled with paprika oil, it’s as satisfying as it is affordable. I came to miss it so achingly back home that I resolved to take matters into my own hands. Hence the birth of this recipe, which (don’t @ me, Taylor) gives Imren a run for its money.
It’s tough living so far from a such a close friend. Facetime has nothing on actual face-to-face time. But if soup is our love language, I’ll be speaking it loud and clear all winter long.
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp. sweet paprika
- 2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1½ cup split red lentils
- 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. dried mint
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- 8 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
- Torn cilantro and mint leaves, for garnish
- Lemon wedges and warm flatbread, for serving