Milk Street: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

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Matthew Card, Food Editor of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street, stopped by to share a recipe for a delicious hearty soup – quick enough to make on busy weeknights!

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Servings: 4

This simple and substantial Turkish soup is made from red lentils, which soften and break down during cooking, adding texture. The Aleppo pepper brings gentle heat to the dish. If you can't find it, order online or substitute with an additional teaspoon of paprika and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. The soup can be made vegan by substituting olive oil for the butter.

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion cut into ½-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons long-grain white rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves, to serve (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, to serve

In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Once it has stopped foaming, add the onion then sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, paprika and cumin, then sauté for 1 minute.

Add the lentils, rice, 5 cups of water and 2 teaspoons salt, then bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and broken down, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium, heat the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the Aleppo pepper and cook until a few bubbles appear and the oil is bright red. Remove from heat and set aside.

Serve the soup with Aleppo pepper oil drizzled over each serving. Serve with mint and lemon wedges.