the taste space

Turkish Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası)

Posted in Soups by janet @ the taste space on June 27, 2010


While travelling in Turkey, one of my highlights was a cooking course in Istanbul through Cooking Alaturka. The class was a great introduction to both Turkish cuisine and culture. Run by Chef Eveline Zoutendijk, an expatriate Dutch who trained at Cordon Bleu in Paris, as well as Feyzi Yildirim, a Turkish chef, a group of 10 helped to prepare 5 traditional Turkish dishes: Spicy Lentil and bulgur soup with dried mint and red pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası), Green beans in olive oil (Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye), Zucchini patties with herbs and cheese (Kabak Mücveri), Lamb stew in tomato sauce on smoky eggplant puree (Hünkar beğendili kuzu) and Walnut-stuffed figs in syrup (İncir Tatlısı).

The venue was perfect for our class. In fact, Chef Eveline designed the kitchen specifically for cooking classes when creating her own restaurant. Chef Eveline leads the majority of the instructions but Chef Feyzi teaches us more hands-on techniques. Both have made this a fun, yet informative cooking class. Chef Eveline’s culinary school background was evident in her teaching – this wasn’t just thrown together for tourists.

This was a hands-on cooking class. However, we didn’t each create every single dish. We shared in the prep work and then came together to create the main meals. My task was to chop red peppers for the lamb stew, which look surprisingly like chili peppers, but that’s what they look like in Turkey: slim, in all their glory. Chef Feyzi showed me how to chop the perfect pepper, with a slight diagonal.

Afterwards, I used a huge zirh, the Turkish equivalent of a mezzaluna, to chop herbs for the zucchini fritters. Armed with the lid from the pot, I became a kitchen warrior!  Later, I mixed everything together and grilled the fritters on the stovetop. Chef Feyzi watched very intently – “too small!”, “too much oil!” he proclaimed, yet they all turned out delicious. Others helped to blanch tomatoes or chop the green beans for other dishes. We each peeled our own charred eggplant and stuffed our own figs with walnuts, ready to be poached for dessert.

Each dish was fabulous. My father thought this was the best meal we had during our entire trip in Turkey. He really enjoyed the Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup, which was more spicy than what we had elsewhere. Chef Eveline explained that the recipe originates from southeast Turkey, where they like a bit more heat with their dishes. This soup has a very nice textural component, with cooked lentils perked with bulgur, in a spicy broth flavoured with tomato, red pepper and a dash of mint. Delicious and easy to make.

Chef Eveline told us to pick up some red pepper paste at the Spice Bazaar before we left Turkey, but I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule. I looked at other grocery stores throughout my trip, with no luck. I determined it was an ingredient found mainly around Istanbul.  After I found red pepper paste at Marche Istanbul, I knew I had to recreate the soup at home.  Even if you can’t find red pepper paste, you can substitute more tomato paste instead. You can also make your own.

This is my submission to this week’s  Blogger Secret Ingredient event, featuring bulgur, hosted by Healthy Exposures, and I am also sending this to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

Turkish Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası)

250g red lentils (approximately 1 1/2 cups), washed but not soaked
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp flour
1 tbsp dried mint
1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red pepper paste (can substitute more tomato paste)
5 cups stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
50g coarse bulgur (approximately 1/4 cup)
lemon wedges, to serve
red pepper, to serve

1. Cook the lentils 15-20 minutes in 2-3 fingers high of water, until they fall apart. If needed, foam can be skimmed off the surface while cooking. Set aside when ready.

2. In a large soup pot, melt the butter and add flour to make a light roux. Add the mint, chili flakes, tomato and red pepper pastes. Stir continuously so nothing burns. Add the lentils, then the cold stock and bring to a boil, still stirring. Add the  bulgur once the soup is boiling. Remove soup from heat after the bulgur is added. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve with lemon wedges and red pepper on the side.

Serves 6.

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24 Responses

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  1. BSI Re-Cap and Winner! « said, on June 28, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    […] …from Janet, we have a Turkish Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper (Ezogelin Çorbası) […]

  2. trissalicious said, on June 29, 2010 at 4:12 AM

    How lucky you managed to attend this class… looks like a healthy and hearty dish.

  3. Joanne said, on July 1, 2010 at 6:41 AM

    Wow this really sounds like an awesome class! Is it weird that it is now 6AM and I am craving hunkar begendi (one of my favorite dishes)?

    I love your version of this soup! So very vibrant and I know the flavor must be out of this world.

    Love the picture of you with that knife! First of all, you are adorable. Second of all, it’s bigger than YOU!

  4. The Food Hunter said, on July 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Now that’s a knife!

  5. Jessica said, on July 9, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    Lovely! I wouldn’t like to tangle with such a well armed Turkish warrior! Looks like so much fun…wish I’d been there!

  6. Lucy said, on July 13, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    I did the exact same course last month. It was an incredible experience. Unfortunately I’ve lost the recipes just before I was going to cook for my friends tonight so I did a quick google search. Thanks for providing the lentil soup recipe at least!

    • Saveur said, on July 13, 2010 at 5:55 AM

      Glad I could help a bit, but maybe you could email Chef Eveline for a copy of the rest of the recipes?

      • Lucy said, on July 17, 2010 at 10:02 AM

        I’ve done that but there’s been no response, unfortunately. I should add that I’ve really enjoyed the rest of your blog. It’s fantastic.

      • Saveur said, on July 19, 2010 at 7:54 AM

        I haven’t typed up the other recipes yet but if you wanted any of them specifically, let me know. I know she told me that many of her recipes are based on Ghillie Basan’s Classic Turkish Cooking. I haven’t been able to find that book yet, but enjoy her cookbook The Food and Cooking of Turkey and Ozcan Ozan’s Sultan’s Kitchen.

  7. Carol Gebhart said, on August 6, 2010 at 1:16 PM

    I also attended a cooking class at Cooking Alaturka. Our menu was different but we prepared both the Lentil/Bulgur Soup and the Walnut Stuffed Figs. I made them just last night for a “reunion dinner” with others who were in Turkey with us last September. Both are great dishes. The figs are a delicious and unique dessert, and not difficult to prepare. Somebody asked for the other recipes. Here’s the one for the stuffed figs:

    Walnut Stuffed Figs in Clove Syrup – Serves 6

    12-18 dried figs
    12-18 walnut halves
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 lemon
    10-12 cloves
    1/4 cup chopped or ground pistachios (optional)

    Prepare syrup by bringing the water, sugar, cloves and lemon (squeeze the juice out and throw in the peel as well) to a boil.

    Meanwhile stick a knife a little way into the side of a fig and cut through to a little beyond the center, then turn the knife in a way that a little less than half of the fig gets opened on its side (big enought to stick half a walnut inside.) Stuff the opening fig with half a walnut (or the equivalent in pieces), the bulbous side of the walnut under the stem of the fig. Close back up, making the sides stick back to each other. Repeat procedure with the rest of the figs.

    Add the figs, with their stems up, to the boiling syrup. Simmer for about 30 minutes. If the figs are not covered in syrup you can turn them half-way. Take pan off the heat and cool figs in the syrup, then transfer them onto a plate, leaving behind the syrup. Decocrate with ground pistachios and/or grated coconut. Serve at room temperature, if wanted with kaymak (heavy Turkish cream) on the side.

    Tips:
    I make twice the amount of syrup, then there is no issue with the figs not being covered when they are cooking in the syrup. Also, especially if you are making the dish in advance and so they are going to dry out a little, you can save the syrup and pass it to moisten the figs after they have been served.

    I cannot find the Turkish cream “kaymak” locally, but you can use clotted cream, creme fraiche, sour cream, yogurt….or some other “sourish” cream to contrast with the very rich syrup of this dish.

    • Saveur said, on August 6, 2010 at 1:35 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing. I agree, they were delicious. :)

  8. Olga said, on August 20, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Ladies, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve included one of your recipes and a photo in the Vegetarian Ramadan round-up on my blog – hope you’ll find it interesting to check out the rest too http://www.myconsciouseating.com/2010/08/vegetarian-iftar-ramadan-recipes-from.html. Have a great weekend)

  9. Jayne said, on August 29, 2010 at 7:33 PM

    My husband and I did the cooking class at Cooking Alaturka as well! We loved it. Let me know if you find the bell pepper paste in the Toronto area (we live in Mississauga). Eveline was away for awhile (returned for our class which was Aug. 19th). I am sure she will send you the recipes. If not I could mail a copy to you as I think we did the same recipes.

  10. […] of lentils, ranging from ivory white, yellow to black. I have cooked with brown, green and red lentils, but I only recently tried the French green (du Puy) lentils. With this salad, in fact.  […]

  11. […] Janet’s Spicy Lentil and Bulgur Soup with Dried Mint and Red Pepper (Ezogelin Corbasi). […]

  12. Jennifer said, on January 26, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Was in Turkey in December and took the very same course. So much fun! Totally tickled to find this post and all the comments. It’s like an Alaturka fan page! I was wondering…How does this soup keep for you? I was going to try to make it for the first time at home, and was wondering if it would keep alright if I make extra. Thanks!!

    • Saveur said, on January 26, 2011 at 10:40 PM

      Hey Jennifer, Yes, this soup definitely keeps well as leftovers. Glad to hear you had as much fun as me. :) Did you make the same dishes?

  13. […] […]

  14. […] I am happy to have found a new recipe for my red pepper paste, substitute a roasted red pepper for the red pepper paste. The paste is just so much easier since […]

  15. […] in Turkey, I learned how to roast an eggplant to get that smokey flavour for the eggplant in Sultan’s […]

  16. […] While travelling in Turkey, my favourite dessert discovery was kunefe. I think I was in Fethiye, on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, when I stumbled upon it. I was wavering between kunefe and Noah’s pudding (asure) on the menu. As I typically do, I consulted with the waiter – which did he recommend? Kunefe, hand’s down, he told us, if we didn’t mind waiting 20 minutes. It was made to order, he explained. […]

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  18. […] have made the traditional Turkish red lentil and bulgur soup before, having learned it while travelling in Turkey. A humble, yet decidedly filling and […]


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