Red Lentil Soup

This soup is named after a real person: Ezo was a very beautiful woman born in the early twentieth century who was unhappily married. She tried to make her mother-in-law like her by making her this soup. Her story and the recipe spread all over Turkey, and today Ezo’s soup is eaten for breakfast or as part of a main meal. I like it as part of a hearty weekend brunch.

Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 20g butter
  • 3 tablespoons Turkish tomato paste or concentrated tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 200g red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons fine burghul wheat, (optional)
  • 1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint, or to taste, to serve
  • chilli flakes, to serve
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • freshly ground black pepper


Slowly soften the garlic and onion in the butter over a low heat until translucent. Add the tomato paste and paprika and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Then add the lentils, burghul (if using) and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Once the lentils are soft and beginning to fall apart, take off the heat and blitz in a blender until fairly smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve sprinkled with a light dusting of dried mint, chilli flakes and a squeeze of lemon.

Recipe taken from Istanbul by Rebecca Seal

Step onto the streets of Istanbul and you’ll see a city of wonderful contradictions: wander out of an edgy bar and you’re likely to turn a corner and stumble across colonial-era embassy buildings and tea houses brimming with old men playing okey. It’s this fascinating culture, where east meets west, that inspired Rebecca Seal and Steven Joyce to create Istanbul, a food tour of this wonderful city.

You can purchase Istanbul at

Published by Hardie Grant Books.

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