Sunday, October 17, 2010

Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup (Ezo Gelin Corbasi)

Ezogelin soup (or Ezo Gelin soup) is a common and popular soup in Turkish cuisine attributed to Ezo, The Bride, from Gaziantep (a city in southeastern Turkey) who had a very sad and tough life in the first half of the 20th century.

I never skip this soup when we go to a kebab restaurant in Turkey. It's a comforting start and an indicator of a wonderful meal that's going to follow... And I'm happy to cook and serve this at home to my family as a healthy first course.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup red lentils, washed and drained
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fine bulgur, washed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper paste (hot or mild)
  • 4 cups chicken/beef/vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


  • Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high, add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent.
  • Add the lentils, bulgur, tomato paste, pepper paste, stock and dried mint. Bring to a boil (mix occasionally to make sure the paste dissolves evenly in the stock), reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils become soft (This should take less than half an hour). Season to taste with salt and pepper (For me the stock is usually salty enough, so I do not add more salt). Turn off the heat.
  • Process the soup with a hand blender to achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Optional: Heat the butter in a small saucepan. When it starts foaming, add the red pepper flakes, saute for a minute (the flakes will infuse the butter with their flavor and their red color). Pour it into the soup.
  • Serve the soup hot with lemon wedges on the side (to be squeezed into the soup).

Additional notes:

  • If you like a chunkier soup, just skip the hand blender step. This makes it, in my opinion, more home-style.
  • The last step of adding butter and red pepper flakes is optional. But this is a very traditional finishing touch for soups in Turkish cuisine. In fact, my mother-in-law says "Cooking is not finished, until the butter sizzles"...:))

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