You are invited to explore the brief history of lentil soup, a favorite of everyone, a staple on every table, especially during the autumn and winter months. Did you know the diverse variations of this flavor that we adore, from yellow to red, brown to green? Have you ever wondered what has transpired throughout the history of this delightful dish, how lentil soup originated, and how it was prepared in the past?
If you're ready for a journey filled with flavor that will warm your heart, let's begin!
Lentil soup, with lentils as its main ingredient, can be vegetarian or contain meat, and it can use brown, red, yellow, green, or black lentils, either with or without their shells. Yellow and red lentils, when cooked with their shells removed, create a thick soup. It's a staple food in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Its name, which originates from Persian, shares the same root as the word "pupil" in English. Despite our attempts to classify lentils based on their colors, there are actually 58 different varieties of lentils worldwide. Lentils are a healthy food, rich in minerals, proteins, and dietary fiber, making them an excellent choice.
Lentil soup is suitable for any time of day, from breakfast to dinner, and it consistently ranks high on the list of favorite dishes. Even though the menu may change in every restaurant, lentil soup remains a constant delight. Just as children who refuse to eat anything else will always say 'yes' to pasta, lentil soup has a similar effect. Even a Turkish customer who won't like anything else on the menu will at worst definitely have lentil soup. That's why this soup always takes its place as a guaranteed option on every menu.
Lentil soup can include various vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, celery, tomatoes, pumpkin, and onions. Common seasonings include garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, and olive oil. Sometimes it's garnished with croutons, chopped herbs, butter, red pepper flakes, and mint, and it's often served with a squeeze of lemon. In the Middle East, adding lemon juice provides a sharp flavor and lightens the meal. In Turkey and the Middle East, the soup is usually pureed before serving and traditionally consumed during the winter.
A short sweet story
Lentil soup also has a mythical story. Three thousand years ago, a girl was born into a farmer's family. She had beautiful, long, black hair and a brilliant mind. When her family went to work on the farm, she would cook meals for them, showcasing her culinary skills at a very young age. As she grew a little older, she would gather various herbs from around and try to make tea and meals from them by drying them. One day, she found red lentils among the herbs. She took them, dried them, cooked them in various ways, and finally discovered the red lentil soup. She peacefully passed away, having brought happiness to people without any expectations. This story reminds us that life can be full of unexpected surprises, and every moment can bring a new discovery.
How to make it
Now, let's get to how to make lentil soup. In Turkey, lentil soup is often blended to make it smooth, but many people also prefer it with whole lentils. However, the most common and loved version is 'strained lentil soup.' Lentil soup, despite being a simple and minimalistic dish, has its own unique secrets and methods for everyone. I will also try to share the best lentil soup with you using my own method.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion (coarsely chopped)
- 1 carrot (coarsely chopped)
- 1 large potato (coarsely chopped)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups of red or yellow lentils
- 3 cups of beef or chicken broth (if you're vegetarian, you can use regular water instead)
- 3 cups of hot water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- In a deep pot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté 1 large onion, coarsely chopped, in the olive oil until it's slightly softened.
- Add one each of coarsely chopped carrots and potatoes to the sautéed onions in the pot and continue to mix.
- Rinse 2 cups of lentils thoroughly in water and then add them to the pot, stirring well.
- Finally, add water and broth, salt, and black pepper. Close the lid and cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and carrots become soft. Be careful and monitor closely, as lentils have a tendency to stick to the pot due to gravity!
- After the soup is cooked, use a hand blender to puree it until it reaches a smooth consistency. Cook for an additional 5 minutes before removing it from the heat.
- In a separate pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and dried mint. After sizzling the spices in the oil for about 2 minutes, remove from heat.
- Transfer the soup to a bowl and drizzle the hot oil mixture over it.
Tips: Lentil soup is a thick soup. While it may not be as dense as pumpkin soup, it has its unique consistency. If you can't achieve the desired thickness, you can quickly sauté a spoonful of flour in a little oil and add it to your soup to reach the desired consistency. Trust me, most restaurants take the easy way out and use this trick.
Enjoy your meal!