Turkish Bulgur and Red Lentil Soup

I discovered this recipe in The Guardian last winter and it has since become a favourite go-to recipe, both because it’s delicious and because it’s dead simple to make. I think I have forwarded it on to everyone in my family (many of whom are vegetarians) and have made it for several dinner parties (easiest meal ever!). My favourite thing about it is that it requires only pantry ingredients (apart from fresh Thyme), so you can make it even if you have nothing in your fridge! I usually make it the day before a big grocery shop when I have nothing else to make… and my husband always says that it’s his favourite meal of the week! Here’s the recipe:

For the soup:

100g red lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 litre vegetable stock
50g bulgur wheat
1½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
1-2 tbsp thick yoghurt

For the flavoured oil:

3 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
1 tsp dried mint
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika

Pick over the lentils, tip into a sieve and rinse well. Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and sauté the onion with the thyme and a good pinch of salt until softened and just beginning to turn golden. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the tomato purée, stir, then tip in the stock, bulgur, lentils and paprika. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils and bulgur are very soft. You can purée the soup in a food processor or with a stick blender if you prefer a smooth and creamy soup, or leave it as it is (I prefer it this way), adding a little more stock or water if it’s too thick. Season to taste.

While the soup is cooking make the flavoured oil. Warm the olive oil in a pan with the butter until the butter has melted and the foaming subsides. Remove from heat and stir in the dried mint and paprika. (If you’re in a rush, you can skip this part entirely and just top with yoghurt and sprinkle some dried or fresh mint on top.)

Serve the soup in warmed bowls with yoghurt and the flavoured oil trickled over the top, and sprinkled with a pinch or two of dried mint.

(Image is by Colin Campbell for the Guardian)

9 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Siobhán | July 28, 2011 | Reply

We love this soup in our house too (my husband is Turkish). I sometimes do a variation on it using onions, carrots, potatoes and lentils with mint. My 7 month old loves it too (I omit the salt for his portion) :-)

2. Lindsey | July 28, 2011 | Reply

uh, thank you! always love a good, new recipe!

3. Esther in Amsterdam | July 29, 2011 | Reply

So glad you posted this — the only thing is that I have trouble finding sweet smoked paprika — you will have to send me some (or I’ll come for it ;-) ) x

4. emilie | July 30, 2011 | Reply

LOVE this, exactly the kind of recipe I love!

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8. Stella | October 30, 2011 | Reply

Just made this soup for Sunday tea – it is absolutely delicious! My husband loved it too. Thanks for sharing!

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