Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own

Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup



One year ago, my sweetheart and I have been to Istanbul and we immediately fell in love with the city! It was a place I had desired to visit for a long time, since I read “The Museum of Innocence” from the Turkish Nobel Prize winner Orham Pamuk, and I was not a bit disappointed when the dream came true, on the contrary, it was even better than I expected! I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of its buildings, particularly by the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmed Mosque), the hectic activity in its streets and in the Grand Bazar and the funky and grunge districts like Beyoglu and Kadiköy respectively.  By the way, The Museum of Innocence, does exists and is worth the visit if you have read the book, besides is located at the very charming bohemian district of Çukurcuma, full of antique shops.

Well, let’s get to the point now, the food was amazing too! Once you’ve tried a REAL kebab there, you’ll never feel the same about your local ones. Or baklava! I thought I didn’t like it until I had one piece in Istanbul. And it turned out that soup was a typical dish served everywhere, locals have it for breakfast or at any other time during the day. The most common ones were chicken and lentil soup, served with lemon wedges to season and lots of bread.

We ate very well almost everywhere, but a bit outside the most touristy areas, we found this pearl: Ciğerci Salih Usta restaurant (no website available, so I give you the address: İskender Paşa Mah. Şekerci Sok. No:6 ; Aksaray, Istanbul) that specialises in şiş (meat brochette) cooked in an in sight barbecue. They don’t serve any alcohol, but the ayran (a kind of buttermilk) was a great beverage option. The lentil soup was also delicious, in fact I enjoyed it that much, that a picture of it is the image I chose for my blog header.

IMG_0236 - Versión 2


When we came back, I immediately did my research for the Turkish lentil soup recipe, which resulted very simple but utterly delicious. This time I added some cabbage to the usual recipe, and really liked the result. My granny’s best friend was from Syria and taught her a lentil stew with cabbage that she kept on cooking for the rest of her life, so to me, lentils and cabbage are matching and dear flavours. Here we go with it!

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes in the pressure cooker* or until the lentils are done for regular cooking


  • a dash of olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/8 green cabbage head, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lentils (I used brown that I had at hand, the Turkish recipe uses red). If not using the pressure cooker* soak the lentils overnight and rinse before using
  • 1 & 1/2 liter chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian/vegan option)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ground cumin and chilli flakes to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve


Heat the oil in a high sided pot (the pressure cooker* pot in my case), add the onion, carrot and cabbage and sauté over a medium-low heat until the onion is translucent.

Put in the lentils, pour the stock and season with the salt, pepper, ground cumin and chilli flakes.

Cover and cook for 15 minutes once full pressure is reached if using the pressure cooker* or until the lentils are cooked, I think it must take around 45 minutes, for regular cooking. Once the soup is cooked, carefully (because is going to be hot!) purée it using an immersion blender.

*Always follow your pressure cooker instructions and manage it with due care.

Serve with lemon wedges and slices of bread if desired and enjoy!


If you are in a real hurry sometime, you can always use pre-cooked jar or tinned lentils. I try to avoid them because of the extra sodium they come with, but once in a while, they can fix a still healthy meal!


4 thoughts on “Mercimek Çorba – Turkish Lentil Soup

  1. Pingback: Ten months, ten posts: Reader’s Top Ten Recipes | Around the Bowl

  2. Pingback: Moroccan Vegan Rice Soup | Around the Bowl

  3. I’ve never been to Istanbul (it’s ont he list!) but I have been to Turkey a couple of times and I too loved the food. I enjoy soup for breakfast even in SPain or England and this one would hit the spot. Love the recipe and I love the little squeeze of lemon in at the end 🙂


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