Mercimek Çorbası (Red Lentil Soup)
3 carrots, grated or julienned
1-2 Diced tomatoes or tomato purée
1 large or 2 medium onions, diced
Mint, dried or fresh
1 potato, grated or julienned
1 tablespoon cumin
3-4 tablespoons Olive oil
Dried hot chili peppers (optional)
4 lg. cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
Salt, to taste
1 cup red lentils
In a soup pot, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is warm (but not smoking), add onions and carrots. Sauté until soft. Add one tablespoon of cumin (less, or none if you do not like cumin), and stir. Let this simmer for about half a minute, to release the flavor of the cumin. Add one and a half tablespoons of dried mint, or a large handful of chopped fresh mint and the garlic. Stir once more, and add diced tomatoes or a small can of tomato puree (without any added flavorings). Stir again. Now add the grated potato (a small handful of rice can be substituted) and about one cup of red lentils and stir. To this, add six cups of water. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste. Add one bay leaf and a couple of dried chili peppers (break them if you want the soup to be spicy). Simmer until the red lentils have become very soft or dissolved. Mix in one or two teaspoons of salt, to taste. Serve with fresh mint sprinkled on top, if desired.
Measurements are not at all important for this soup to come out well. The only thing to be sure of is that you have enough water for the lentils. If you add rice, also be sure not to add too much because it absorbs lots of water: this recipe is easier to make with a potato than with rice, but the rice makes it a complete protein. If you want to use both, you can, just keep your eye on the water. If the soup seems to be getting too thick, you can always add more water at any time.