Mercimek çorbasi (Turkish red lentil soup)

Serves 4

Michelin-starred chef Ahmet Dede is nothing short of inspirational. When he arrived in Ireland, not only was he not a chef, but he didn’t even know what the Michelin Guide was. Fast forward 10 years and he had been awarded a Michelin star twice – the second time for his own restaurant, Dede in Baltimore, West Cork, which serves food with flavours from Turkey using local produce. Specifically, Ahmet drew from his food memories growing up in Ankara and his mum’s cooking. This soup is a dish that Ahmet’s mum would cook for him. ‘It always reminds me of home,’ he says. A bowl of this creamy, blended lentil soup will transport you to the fragrant spice markets of Turkey while nourishing your soul.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
150g dried red lentils, rinsed
20g tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried mint
1 litre chicken stock
fine sea salt
juice of 1 lemon
natural yogurt


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion has softened but not coloured.

Add the red lentils and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato purée and all the spices and dried mint and cook for 1 more minute.

Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the liquid has reduced by half. Blend the soup to a smooth purée, then season to taste with salt.

Serve with a drizzle of lemon juice and a dollop of yogurt on top.

From Blasta Books 5: SOUP

Illustration (c) Nicky Hooper

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