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)
- Dice the onion and carrot and saute in a pan with the olive oil on a medium heat.
- 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.
- Add the water, vegetable stock, tomato puree, and red pepper puree (or sweet paprika) and bring to a simmer.
- Rinse the red lentils to remove any impurities and add to the pot with the dried mint.
- Simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
- Blend until smooth, add salt and pepper to taste.
- 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.