(image via Global Stomach)


I love Red Lentil Soup.  The first Red Lentil Soup I fell for was in Istanbul in 1993, where we traveled four or five times planning the first Oldways Symposium in Turkey for 100 journalists, chefs, cookbook authors, historians and scientists.  In fact, Florence Fabricant wrote in a 1999 New York Times article, America Discovers The Turkish Mosaic,  “The buzz about Turkey may have begun in 1993, when a group of food editors and writers visited Turkey on an international symposium organized by Oldways.” But back to the soup.  When we came back from Istanbul the first time we got to know Ozcan Ozan, a Turkish chef who owned the Sultan’s Kitchen, a restaurant near the Oldways office.  His Red Lentil Soup was amazing — and we’ve had him bring his soup to a number of our Mediterranean Conferences in Boston. Planning a dinner party for vegetarian friends, I remembered seeing a recipe for Red Lentil Soup in Melissa Clark’s fantastic new cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite.  Melissa fell in love with the Red Lentil Soup, just like I did.   She went to a dinner party at her friend Anya’s house, where Anya served Red Lentil Soup in little white espresso cups.  Melissa writes that it was “a gorgeous soup, it was warming and hearty….it had a zesty, spicy flavor that was more ethereal and sunny than any earthbound wintry bean.”  Anya shared her recipe, but Melissa also created her own version  — Red Lentil Soup with Lemon.  BUT…you’ll have to buy a copy of her book to get this and other recipes, and read all the wonderful stories that go with the recipes!  — Sara (slightly adapted from) Anya’s Original Lentil Soup with Dried Mint and Tomato in Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint, plus additional for serving
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ¼ cup coarse bulgur wheat
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • Butter, for serving
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In large pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper with the extra virgin olive oil.  Cook until the onion is soft and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato, tomato paste, and mint, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the lentils and bulgur wheat, and cover with the vegetable or chicken stock and 2 cups of water.  Cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the lentils are tender.  Serve each bowl with a little pat of butter on top, letting it melt, along with a sprinkle of mint, red pepper and the lemon wedges.

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