Turkish red lentil soup is heartwarming and sooo delicious, you’ll want to make this one time and time again!! It‘s so easy to make with red lentils, bulgur, red pepper, mint and lemon — and it’s ready in just over 30 minutes!
This lentil soup recipe is inspired by a traditional Turkish soup my aunt learned to make while attending a culinary cooking class in Istanbul. It‘s made with simple, nutritious ingredients and is perfectly suitable for anyone following a plant-based diet. Although, it contains a little butter, this could easily be traded out for a vegan alternative and of course vegetable broth used instead of chicken broth. With a couple minor tweaks you have a deliciously tasty vegan lentil soup.
Key ingredients for this Red Lentil Soup
- Red lentils have a lovely sweet, nutty flavor and are brimming with essential vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. Plus they are a great choice if you want to make a soup with a creamy texture – without the 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 hearty soups and stews.
- Bulgur is a form of par-cooked wheat and it is great for thickening up a soup or stew and has a deliciously satisfying texture, making it a great choice for both soups and salads. It can be added to this red lentil soup directly or rinsed beforehand to remove some of the starch.
- Herbs in the form of dried or fresh mint. I tend to use fresh mint when making this lentil soup recipe since I don’t usually have dried mint on hand. Traditionally, this Turkish soup is seasoned with dried mint.
- Red pepper paste, also called biber salcasi (found in well-stocked supermarkets or Turkish markets), adds a rich flavour to the soup.
- Lemon is a important finisher for this soup as the fresh flavor and acidity balances out all the flavours and simply makes the soup taste better. It‘s not to be skipped. It could, however, be replaced with a different acid, such as vinegar if preferred.
How to serve this Turkish Red Lentil Soup
Lentils and bulgur make for a filling and hearty soup — it‘s a meal in itself. Therefore you could enjoy it on its own as a light lunch, or serve it with a simple green salad and some crusty bread. Leftovers taste even better the next day, as the flavors deepen and the bulgur has had some time to expand.
If you like this lentil soup recipe, also try:
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Bulgur, Red Pepper & Mint
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed but not soaked (300 g)
- 1 tablespoon butter (or vegan alternative)
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 pointed red pepper (or small red bell 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 to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red pepper paste, found in Turkish markets under the name “biber salcasi” (optional)
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth (1.2 l)
- 1/4 cup coarse bulgur (50 g)
- fresh parsley, as garnish
- lemon wedges, for serving
Transfer the lentils to a medium pot. Cook the lentils, covered in about 4-6 cm 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.
In a second pot, large enough for soup (or Dutch oven), melt the butter with the oil over medium heat; add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth to create a „roux“ (about 1 minute). Roux is a mixture of fat and flour cooked together to help thicken sauces and soups.
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.
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 simmer 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.
Ladle into soup bowls and top with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and squeeze of lemon juice. Or serve with lemon wedges on the side. Enjo
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