We are headed off East again this week, arriving in Turkey. I spent quite a lot of time in Turkey’s North East, in a city called Kars near the Armenian and Georgian border (my only experience of Asia apart from Japan so far). It is a beautiful area, mountainous and rugged, and outside Kars people still live like what feels to me ages ago. Often, villages only have one car available for the whole village and it is mainly used for longer distances. Otherwise, I have seen carts drawn by horses and donkeys. The people were super welcoming and open. I remember one field trip during which we ended up in a pastor’s house and they produced a meal for us just out of nothing with fresh flatbread warmed up on the oven in house, olives, home-made jam and cheese. Or when I was invited to a colleagues house and had a variety of dishes made from fresh vegetables: the grilled aubergine comes straight to my mind! The love infused into these meals, the simplicity and the fact that everything is home-made showed me this was high quality food, something that is not necessarily true for the food we get in our big supermarkets despite all the variety! I was always looked after very well by my colleagues in University, too – being vegetarian is quite a foreign concept there still. However, I could always rely on having one of these yummy lentil soups somewhere – a definite staple in the diet there, super nourishing and wholesome. Hence, I did have to re-create this recipe in my own kitchen. It is not quite what I had in Kars, but I guess, sometimes memories will always taste better!
Turkish Lentil Soup
Dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegan.
– 2 tbsp extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil
– 1 medium potato, skin on, well washed and cut into 1×1 cm2 cubes
– 1 large carrot, sliced into chunks
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 250 g red lentils, well rinsed and soaked for about 90 minutes, then drained
– ½ tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
– ~500 mL hot water
– To serve: fresh mint, chopped, and chilli flakes
– Optional: 1-2 tsp extra virgin cold pressed olive oil
- In a sauce pan add the coconut oil, the cubed potato, carrot and onion and fry on medium to high heat for about 5 min, stirring regularly.
- Add the lentils, then add hot water to the pan so that all ingredients are just about covered with the odd lentil peaking above the water level. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes.
- Once all ingredients are cooked through, cool the soup down slightly, then blend it with a hand blender or similar (if you use a stand up blender make sure to hold the lid down).
- Serve with freshly chopped mint, the traditional chilli flakes that you find in all Turkish restaurants and a few drops of olive oil!