Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbasi)

March 20, 2008 § 24 Comments

Lentils are one of the blessed foods mentioned in the Qur’an al-kerim. And according to the Holy Prophet’s medicine (may Peace and Blessings be upon him), lentils ‘soften the belly’ increasing ‘sympathy and humility’. Red lentil soup is a Turkish favorite and is good to be served with bread prior to your main dish. In this post I will give you a run down of how to make Turkish Red Lentil Soup or Kırmizi Mercimek Çorbasi.

Total Time: 1.5 hours


  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes
  • 3 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • .5 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar
  • 1.5 cup extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed)
  • 16 cups (1 gallon) stock or water and 2 boullion

Bring the 10 or 12 cups of water to a boil. Add the red lentils and 2 tsp. salt, then let simmer for 30 minutes. While the large soup pot is simmering coat the onions with olive oil and 1tsp. of salt in another pot. Then cover and lower the heat on the second pot to allow the onions to cook, do this for about 3 – 5 minutes.

Add the bulgur, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin and stir until browned. Next add tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley and the remaining cups of water (4 or 6 cups of water). Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Allow the second pot to simmer for 15 minutes.

By the time these 15 minutes are over both pots should be done simmering. Now pour the contents of the second pot into the soup pot with the lentils, cover and allow to simmer on low heat for 40 minutes or until the bulgur and lentils are soft. You may add more water if you desire a thinner soup.

When time is up, add lemon juice or vinegar and serve immediately. You may want to add a some mint, a tbsp. yogurt and sprinkle sumac on top. It adds the right color and tone to a very delicious soup.

Note: This is my version of the soup. I cook mine with a few differences. Firstly, I use a slow cooker, which is sometimes called a Crock Pot. And when using the Crock Pot there is no reason to separate the lentil from the onions, tomatoes and other ingredients. However, it nearly takes 3 times as long to complete. So when using a Crock Pot, I suggest you prepare at night and allow to cook on low setting over night. In the morning you will have a beautiful soup inshaAllah.

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§ 24 Responses to Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbasi)

  • rahma says:

    assalamu alaikum,

    If you’re looking for more good lentil recipes, I highly recommend either (or both) Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian and World-of-the-East Vegetarian. I’ve been cooking out of them almost exclusively for months, and haven’t gotten bored yet.

    I’ll definately be trying this one this weekend, huzzah!

  • Irisblue says:


    Looks wonderful 🙂 Thanks for posting – I will definitely have to give this a try soon!

  • Penny says:

    OOh I’ve just found your blog, while trawling the internet looking for recipes- its wonderful

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaam. rahma, Irisblue and Penny. Please let us know how your lentil soup turns out.


  • HijabiApprentice says:

    Asalaamu Alaikum Saifuddin!

    This lentil soup looks ummm ummm good! Thanks for the recipe.

    ma’a salaamah,


  • ExPat Chef says:

    The recipe carnival is up at Expatriate’s Kitchen. Thanks for participating.

  • Umm Layth says:

    as salamu ‘alaykum

    I tried this recipe today, with a few changes due to my style of not following directions exactly, and not having fresh parsley, etc… and it came out similar to the turkish soup I make.

    I love red lentils, yellow lentils, and lentil soup.

    I’m looking for a specific turkish recipe, though. I have tried a white bean soup at a restaurant here in my state that was lovely. Any idea what I am talking about? They serve it over rice and stuff, too.

    Thank you for sharing. You allowed me to use my crockpot… which is something I rarely do.

  • Safiyyah says:

    Salaams Brother:

    Yumm…looks delicious. Will try soon, Insha Allah! My husband loves beans in any form!

  • Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    I meant to ask you what kind of bread this soup is traditionally served with? I am making the soup in my new Eid-gift-from-Mom crock pot this Wednesday inshaAllah. My mom is coming over to my new(er) apt for the first time to have this for dinner. I want to make a good impression and relate this to her in relation to the Shaykh inshaAllah too…

  • Saifuddin says:


    wa ‘alaikum as-salaamu ladies. Please let us know how the soup turns out and perhaps some of the changes you made. Aaminah you wrote,

    “I want to make a good impression and relate this to her in relation to the Shaykh”

    What you can tell her is that, ‘Maulana Shaykh Nazim and Shaykh Abdul Kerim Hazretleri eat green lentil soup similar to this when they are in spiritual seclusion (khalwat)’. It softens the heart and promotes energy for worship (zikrullah).


  • Aaminah says:

    Asalaamu alaikum.

    Shukran for the info. I will let you know how it goes, though we have had to postpone until the weekend, inshaAllah.

  • […] Al-Fulani presents Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Çorbasi) posted at Hakim […]

  • Sheree says:

    I am so grateful for your website, thank you thank you! My husband is Turkish and this is our first Ramazan together. I’m doing my best to learn a lifetime of my husband’s way of life in a short period time. When I found your blog I was so incredibly happy and it is truly a blessing. I will learn much on here. Take care and many blessings to you and your loved ones during this sacred time of Ramazan.

  • Saifuddin says:


    selam alaykum! thank you for stopping by Sheree! You are always welcome here. And Ramazan Mubarak to you.


  • Romer!can says:

    Also, is it not common to use a blender (or a otherwise masher) to make a smoother non-chunky soup? Every restaurant in Turkey and every Turkish restaurant in Europe or America all seem to use a blender, so the resulting soup is a very smooth texture with no chunks of anything. Your experience? Thanks.

  • faatih says:

    I love this stuff.

    Sheesh tawuk too.

  • Atro says:

    guys, I cant find bulgur in this shithole, anyone knows how to make it, or any substitutes for it?

  • Tasneem says:

    I appreciate this recipe. I made it today and enjoyed it very much and so did my husband.

    I would like a green lentil recipe, the kind that Sheikh Nazim would eat. Insha’Allah.

  • trini says:

    tried it twice and loved it…I did not use fresh parsely and still came out great!

  • Salman says:

    The finished soup looks exactly like the lentil soup I love sipping at the Turkish cafe’s. Many thanks for sharing the recipe. I’ll try it one day 🙂

  • S.E. says:

    I just made this soup! This is most delicious red lentil soup! Thank you for sharing!

  • Nina says:

    Just what I´ve been dreaming of since Istanbul/2010. Will try soon, withs some Mulligatawny (indian) paste

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