This thick and hearty Turkish red lentil soup will warm your soul! It's creamy while still being vegan and it's full of fragrant spices while still only taking 30 minutes to make.
January is officially soup season and there is no better way to start than with some of the tried and true Savvy Bites favourite soups. The slow cooker ham and lentil soup is always a winner. As is this sweet potato carrot soup or the easy lentil soup with bacon.
But let's talk about this Turkish lentil soup recipe, also known as Mercimek Corbasi. It's fragrant, easy to make and completely perfect for freezer filling and meal prep. It's thick, hearty and filling, but also packed with nutrition and it's vegan. Unless you add on the yoghurt or creme fraiche (which I definitely did!). Traditional Turkish spices like cumin and paprika cook into the red lentils. They have a sweeter nuttier taste than green lentils. And a sprinkle of red pepper chilli flakes or cayenne pepper keeps any January sniffles away.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- A 30-minute soup with few ingredients
- It's gluten and dairy free
- Thick, hearty and filling while still being very healthy- a soup made for real-life.
- Perfect for meal prep. Make a batch on the weekend and have it for lunch all week.
- It is perfect for dipping large chunks of crusty-warm bread, because winter!
- red lentils
- tomato paste/ puree
- vegetable stock
- crushed red pepper chilli flakes or cayenne
- fresh mint
- creme fraiche
- chopped pistachios (optional)
- lemon juice
See the recipe card for quantities.
*Quick note about ingredients- most of the recipes on this website will require you to have either vegetable or olive oil and salt and pepper. Those items won't be in the list but will be in the recipe card below with the quantities listed.
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1 & 2
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot. Once the oil is hot and shimmers add in the onion and saute until golden.
- Add in the garlic and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
Step 3 & 4
- Stir in the carrot and lentil and mix it well to coat the lentils and carrot in the onions and oil. Add in the spices and mix again.
- Red lentils already have a mildly nutty flavour anyway, so it's not necessary to toast them in the oil as you would with many grains or legumes.
Step 5 & 6
- Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils and carrots have softened. About 15-20 minutes.
- Use a stick blender and or upright and blend the soup until it's smooth. You can add in more water or stock if the soup is too thick for your liking. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning. This is a good place to add in any extra spices that you may want to boost the flavour of.
Serve the soup with a dollop of creme fraiche to cool down any chilli pepper and some chopped pistachios and lemon wedges and maybe a sprinkle of cracked black pepper.
Hint: Blended soups are perfect for the freezer and meal prep because they're so easy to store. A great investment is an immersion blender so that it makes cleaning up so easy. And they really are a great alternative to upright blenders which can be pricey and take up a lot of space in your kitchen.
Absolutely. In fact, as I was researching this recipe something that came up a few times was that in Istanbul they would say this lentil soup is vegetarian because it doesn't have meat in it but may very likely be made with chicken stock.
One of the traditional spices in this soup is Aleppo pepper also called Pul Biber. They don't sell it at Aldi, but there are many supermarkets you can find it at. I would personally add in a pinch of ground coriander because it's so fragrant and has an almost floral quality to it which would really compliment the nuttiness of the lentils and the creaminess of the texture.
This lentil soup would very much benefit from a simple dollop of Greek yoghurt or even just a drizzle of olive oil if you're feeling very minimalist. Almonds would work well here too, instead of pistachios. And the fresh mint leaves are a very traditional topping.
Substitutions and Variations
Turkish lentil soup really doesn't have a long list of ingredients that you can really play around with, but there are a couple of adjustments that you can make to adapt it to your taste.
- Stock - instead of vegetable you can use chicken stock for a richer flavour
- Creme fraiche - for keeping this truly dairy free use a vegan yogurt or just a drizzle of olive oil
- Spicy - while Turkish lentil soup isn't meant to be really spicy you can turn the heat up a little by adding in some cayenne pepper for a nice kick
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. As with pretty much all recipes on Savvy Bites, the equipment list is pretty short and inexpensive but they are tools that can make all the difference to your time in the kitchen. Here's what I used
- soup pot- simple but perfectly formed. Not too heavy but can hold heat well
- immersion blender- smooth creamy soups with minimal clean up
- garlic grater- so clean and easy to use
- peeler for the carrots- these peelers are cheap, sharp and they're what all professional chefs use.
Ever notice how soups and stews are always better on day 2 and day 3? Yeah. This soup is no different. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, either use the microwave or gently heat up in a pan on the hop.
Need help with meal planning? You can find our (Aldi ingredients only) weekly meal plans here! Sign up to receive them free every week or take our quick meal planning course and grab the blank meal planner and use all these recipes to create your own meal plans. Follow along on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.
Easy 30 Minute Turkish Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- 1 (1) brown onion, diced
- 3 cloves (3 cloves) garlic, minced
- 2 (2) small carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) tomato paste, puree
- 190 g (1 cups) red lentils
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon (1 ½ teaspoon) paprika
- 900 ml (3 ⅗ cups) vegetable stock, made from a stock cube
- juice of ½ lemon
- fresh mint leaves
- chopped pistachios
- creme fraiche or Greek yoghurt
- cracked black pepper
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot- it will shimmer- sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes until they’re starting to turn golden and have softened.
- Add in the tomato puree, carrots, and lentils, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Mix in the cumin and paprika and pour in the vegetable stock. Gently simmer until the carrots and lentils are soft, about 20 minutes.
- Blend the soup until it's smooth and creamy using either an immersion blender or an upright blender. Then squeeze in the lemon juice. Whisk everything well and taste to adjust the seasoning.
- Divide into bowls and top with the creme fraiche, pistachios and mint leaves.
- All of the toppings are optional but highly recommended. If you're keeping it minimal then a drizzle of olive oil is amazing too.
- Store this lentil soup in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. This makes it perfect for batch cooking.
- Use extra water or stock to thin down the soup if you find it a little on the thick side. The thicker it is the more filling it will be.