Ryan Thomas is a university graduate who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
Lentils don't seem to get too much attention in American cuisine. Beans are used plentifully of course in Mexican food, and you can find chickpeas and peas in plenty of recipes, but the humble lentil is the black sheep of the family.
At least that's how it always seemed to me. I always seem to have a bag of lentils tucked away in the cupboard, crying out to be used. But that shows some of the great strengths of lentils—they last forever, they are cheap, and when it came time to use them they are greatly flexible.
I found this Turkish-style lentil soup recipe on a Youtube food channel called My Name is Andong. The soup turned out beautifully. It had a very deep, savory flavor produced by a heady medley of ingredients such as tomato paste, garlic, and onion. It went wonderfully with bread, yoghurt, and paprika oil. And it was so easy to make, too! I was taken with the recipe, and I recommend trying out the original (linked above)—but I also came up with some adjustments to suit my own tastes.
In my variation, I've omitted the celery but retained the carrots. I've also substituted white wine for water, which lends a delicately sweet flavor. It's easy to modify the recipe, and in my version I've chosen to keep it rough and rustic, but it would be easy to blend it to make it smooth, as is often the style in Turkey.
- 1 pound lentils
- 3 tablespoons + 1 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 onions, peeled and diced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine
- 1 quart water
- 3 carrots, carrots
- 2 teaspooons dried mint
- 2 tablespoons paprika oil
- Melt the butter and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot or casserole dish. Add in the onions and potatoes, and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent and golden but not brown. Add in the garlic, and sauté a few minutes.
- Add in the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, and sauté for a few minutes so that it has a richer and deeper flavor. Then add in the lentils and again sauté for a few minutes. Make sure to stir constantly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the bottle of white wine and the water. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and then add in the chopped carrots.
- Cook for 30 minutes or so, simmering.
- In a small separate saucepan, heat the 1 cup of olive oil with paprika over a medium heat, whisking, for 3 minutes, then turn off and allow the paprika flavor to soak through.
- I prefer to leave the soup rustic and to not blend it, but if one wants one could remove the carrot chunks from the soup and blend it. I find that it works perfectly fine without doing so, and I actually prefer it. Just before serving add in the dried mint, and then proceed to spoon out into bowls and serve with paprika oil and yoghurt, as well as if possible bread.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 25, 2021:
We use lentils in traditional native ways. This one seems to be a novel way to use them.