Made with red lentils and bulgur, ezogelin soup is one of the best-loved dishes in Turkey. In fact, we don’t think you can find a lokanta (restaurant) or kebapçı (kebab house) in Turkey that won’t have it on the menu. It is the perfect start to any Turkish meal.
In Turkish, it’s called ezogelin çorbası, or “the soup of Ezo the bride.” Tradition has it that Ezo was a real person, a woman who lived in the early half of the 20th century in southeastern Turkey. She is remembered in folk songs and stories that recount how she married a rich but cruel man. She was permitted a divorce (rare in those times) and fell in love with a Syrian man — but before she could marry him, she had to prove her worth to his mother. She made this soup and, well, the rest is history; it was so good that not only did she get to marry her true love, but her soup became a staple dish of the country.
Ezogelin soup is a great starter before your favourite kebab, but also works as a hangover cure or to warm you on a chilly winter’s day treat. Whatever the reason for eating it, you can know that many stories have been told and many new friends made over a steaming bowl of ezogelin çorbası.
Our Home Cooked Istanbul host, Seray, makes a great version of ezogelin soup. She let us in on her recipe so you can try to recreate it at home, but we can guarantee nothing beats having it made by Seray herself.
Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
- 1 cup red lentils
- ¼ cup of fine bulgur (dried wheat)
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dry mint
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 clove of garlic
- 5 cups water or chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
- 1 lemon juice
- Wash the red lentils under cold running water. (Tip: if you can, it’s best to soak lentils the day before.)
- Heat olive oil in a large soup pot and add tomato paste and garlic. Stir for 2 minutes, then add diced tomato and green pepper. Cook and stir for 5 more minutes.
- Add lentils and washed bulgur, water or chicken stock, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and dry mint.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until the lentils are cooked (about 25-30 minutes).
- Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Stir the soup.
- Serve with fresh bread.
Afiyet olsun! (Enjoy your meal!)
Try Turkish life with a family meal and an evening mingling with locals at some of their favourite haunts on this Istanbul food tour. An expert local guide will meet you at the meeting point, from which you’ll wander through the streets of historical Sultanahmet en route to meet a local family.