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Mercimek corbasi

Mercimek corbasi
Mercimek corbasi

Mercimek corbasi

Mercimek corbasi is a Turkish lentil soup, of Southeast Anatolian origin. In addition to red lentils, the soup contains carrot, potato, onion and typical Turkish seasonings such as tomato puree, paprika and dried mint. The dish is loved throughout the country and is eaten as breakfast, lunch and starter.

What is mercimek corbasi?

Mercimek corbasi (or mercimek ├žorbasi, pronounced: “MER-dzee-mek kor-bah-dzee”) is a lentil soup from Turkish cuisine, of Southeast Anatolian origin. In addition to red lentils (kirmizi mercimek), the soup contains carrot, potato, onion and Turkish seasonings such as tomato salca (tomato paste), paprika powder and dried mint.

The dish is loved throughout the country and is eaten as breakfast (kahvalti), lunch and starter. It is particularly popular in the holy month of Ramadan, when the soup is eaten during iftar, the first meal served after sunset to break the daily fast. Outside Turkey, mercimek corbasi is a popular item on the menu. You can find it in small Turkish snack bars and fancy restaurants.

To give mercimek its characteristic silky smoothness, the soup must boil for a long time, so you need a lot of patience. Or a good hand blender.

Did you know...

There are two types of lentil soup in Turkey: mercimek corbasi and ezo gelin corbasi. Ezo gelin, named after the bride Ezo – a figure from Turkish folklore – who invented the dish, is richer than mercimek, with additional ingredients such as bulgur and rice.

How to make mercimek corbasi

The recipe for mercimek corbasi is a perfect example of how good simple food can be. A finely chopped onion is fried in some oil. Diced carrot is added before tomato puree and spices – often paprika, pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes), cumin, dried mint and/or thyme – go into the pan. The entire arsenal of seasonings is stirred for a while until the spices release their aromas.

Vegetable stock, red lentils and bell pepper are added and everything is left to simmer until the vegetables and lentils are cooked. In the kitchen of a Turkish mama, the soup slowly bubbles until all the ingredients have fallen apart and the soup automatically becomes smooth. Many chefs just use a hand blender and this is fine too.

Lift the soup to a higher level by adding a pinch of lemon and some melted butter mixed with paprika powder.

Every cook has their own recipe, but the differences are small: a little extra pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes) perhaps, or some ground sumac to replace the sourness of the lemon. 

How to eat

Each guest can pimp their own bowl of soup with extra dried mint, sumac and/or pul biber (Turkish chilli flakes).

Also try

Do you like soup? Vietnamese pho is also eaten at any time of day. Or try a bowl of Japanese ramen.

Please consider

A piece of Turkish bread turns this soup into an excellent lunch dish.

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Mercimek corbasi