This lentil & bulgur soup is heartwarming and sooo delicious, you’ll want to make this one time and time again! This soup is inspired by a lentil soup my aunt learned to make while attending a culinary cooking class in Istanbul.
Red lentils are a great choice if you want to make a soup with a creamy texture – sans cream. Once they are cooked, and have a chance to soften up, they tend to break up quite easily, so they’re perfect for making Indian dal or thickening up soups. They can be found in a range of colors, from yellow to orange to an actual red and have a lovely sweet, nutty flavor.
Lentils and bulgur make for a filling and hearty soup. A meal in itself. Serve will a simple green salad and some fresh bread to sop up the soup. Leftovers taste even better the next day, as the flavors deepen and the bulgur has had some time to expand.
1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed but not soaked (250 g)
1/4 cup coarse bulgur (50 g)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon red pepper paste (found in Turkish markets under the name “biber salcasi”) (optional)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
dash of olive oil
1 small red pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon dried mint (or use 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint and add it at the end)
1 teaspoon chili flakes, or more, to taste
5 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock (1.2 l)
fresh parsley, as garnish
lemon wedges, for serving
1. Transfer the lentils to a deep skillet or pot. Cook the lentils in about 4-6 centimeters of water (about 4 cups of water) uncovered, on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until they soften and start to fall apart. If needed, foam can be skimmed off the surface as they are cooking. Set aside when done.
2. In a second pot, large enough for soup, melt butter with the oil over medium heat; add the flour to make a “roux” (roux refers to a mixture of equal amounts of fat and flour, heated, then cooked until bubbly – it helps make sauces thicker).
3. Add the red pepper, dried mint and chili flakes; sauté for 2 minutes and then add the tomato and red pepper paste, stirring constantly so the mixture does not burn.
4. Add the lentils and stock and bring to a boil. TIP: You can use a large whisk to break up the lentils, in order to get a creamier texture. Finally, add the bulgur and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit for a 5-10 minutes before serving; allowing the flavors to mingle.
5. Sprinkle fresh parsley on top and squeeze a little lemon juice in just before serving. Or serve with lemon wedges and extra chili flakes on the side.