Turkish Red Lentil Soup Recipe

4 Servings

I first tried this red lentil soup when I went to visit a dear friend in Istanbul and I was blown away. How could something so simple be so tasty!? I wasn’t even a big fan of lentils (at the time) but ever since it became a staple for me and one of my favourite foods. The combination of red pepper paste (or paprika), cumin and dried mint make these warm and earthy flavours pop . The red lentils do not just add to the taste but also have a wonderful creaminess making this soup a great meal on it’s own. I prefer the soup to have a thicker consistency, but you can add more water if you prefer it thinner. On serving it can be drizzled with paprika oil, which is entirely optional and I admit I many times have it without. Still, the bright red oil adds a lovely warm accent to the dish.


  • 1 cup red lentils (approx 200g)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree paste
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste, or 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the paprika oil

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 0.25 tsp red pepper or chilli flakes (optional)


  1. Dice the onion and carrot and saute in a pan with the olive oil on a medium heat.
  2. When the onion is translucent add the cumin seeds and saute for a minute or so to temper. The cumin seeds become very aromatic once cooked but do burn easily, so a minute is more than enough.
  3. Add the water, vegetable stock, tomato puree, and red pepper puree (or sweet paprika) and bring to a simmer.
  4. Rinse the red lentils to remove any impurities and add to the pot with the dried mint.
  5. Simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  6. Blend until smooth, add  salt and pepper to taste.
  7. For the paprika oil, which is optional, simply add olive oil to a frying pan and once hot (but not smoking) add the smoked paprika and red pepper flakes. Stir in and cook for about 1 minute when the oil should be red. Drizzle over the soup when serving.

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