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Red Lentil Soup with Potato and Lemon

4 Servings

50 minutes 15 minutes active

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Turkish red lentil soup, called kırmızı mercimek çorbası, is a classic dish and a ubiquitous offering in Turkish eateries. There are many versions of the soup, some with a base of chicken stock, others made vegetarian; some that include only with lentils plus a few aromatics, others fortified with rice. Istanbul home cook Emine Nese Daglar, and grandmother of chef Cagla Gurses, taught us her pressure-cooked version, which we adapted for conventional stovetop simmering. To add flavor and color, she uses a Turkish pepper paste called biber salçası; as a substitute we find tomato paste plus roasted red peppers work nicely. She also blends her soup to a smooth, elegant puree, as is traditional, but we prefer to keep ours rustic in texture. Lemon juice is an essential ingredient in kırmızı mercimek çorbası. It brings a brightness that balances the earthiness of the lentils.




Don’t serve the soup immediately after stirring in the lemon juice.* Allow it to stand for a few minutes so the flavors mix and meld.

50 minutes

15 minutes active



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Jean L.
February 9, 2024
One of my favorite soups ever
This recipe is actually very easy to adapt from stovetop to slow cooker! Just start the onions and garlic about an hour or two beforehand, on high in the slow cooker. Then add everything else and turn to low.
Kira H.
December 12, 2023
Great Recipe!
Thank you for this recipe! Just tested this out. Planning on making it for my church for our fast period. Super flavorful and very simple
Lisa L.
November 7, 2023
FAB lentil soup!
Delish! This recipe was easy to make and has been added as a favorite in my house. It's warm, flavorful and healthy! Great for a cold night with a salad and crusty bread or leftovers for lunch. Also a good freezer option. I have doubled the recipe just to freeze half or also to give to someone as part of a meal train when you are looking for a healthier option.
Elisabeth N.
July 10, 2023
I added more roasted red peppers and didn’t have any potatoes on hand, and it turned out incredible. I added some red chili flakes as well for a mild kick. I left out the lemon juice as it had enough acidity from the residual roasted red pepper brine. I had two large servings of this for dinner. Truly fantastic! Far, far better than any red lentil soup I’ve had in a Turkish restaurant.
March 26, 2023
Perfect for mild flavor eaters
No everyone can't eat or, don't like really spiced food. This was great for me, tasty!