Turkish Style Lentil Soup

This recipe resembles a classic Indian dal makhani both in appearance and its wonderfully creamy texture. But instead of red kidney beans and urad dal simmered in an Indian-spiced cream-based sauce, green/brown and red lentils are cooked here in a seasoned coconut milk sauce with sumac, mint and dill. The result is a deliciously unique and warming combination of earthy, tangy, zesty and slightly sweet flavors with a refreshing twist from the fresh mint that will have you spooning bowlfuls with increasing pleasure as you explore the layers of tastes in your mouth. Sumac is the dried fruit of a temperature shrub ground to a powder and used extensively in Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine. You can easily find it in any Middle Eastern or Asian grocer.

1/2 - 2 oz (14 g) dried mushrooms (I used porcini)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion or 4 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
2 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
4 large plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch dice 1 14 oz (400 ml) can coconut milk
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup French (Puy) lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)

YIELD: 6-10 servings

COURSE: Soups and Stews

CUISINE: Lebenese


  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop. Set aside both the liquid and the mushrooms.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions/shallots and garlic and stir for 3 to 4 minutes until they start to soften. Toss in the chilies and continue to stir for 1 minute. Now add the tomatoes and diced carrots and simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  3. Now pour in the coconut milk, the liquid from the soaked mushrooms along with the mushrooms, and 6 cups of stock. Stir in the lentils, paprika, mint, dill and sumac, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender — about 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Stir in the salt, pepper and lemon juice, turn off the heat, and let the soup stand covered for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish each bowl with a few sprinkles of paprika and sumac if desired.