Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup

I’m absolutely smitten with this soup. It’s the perfect cold-weather food, the kind that infuses your soul. It can cure whatever ails. At least, that was our hope last weekend. The three of us have had colds since October it seems. Gabi’s friends at daycare share with her, and she shares with us. It’s about to drive us mad. On Saturday, Jeff suggested a big batch of lentil soup and I couldn’t have agreed with him more.

I found this recipe about 10 years ago in Sundays at Moosewood — a cookbook I bought in college. Some of its pages are splattered.  Notations throughout the book mark my first experiments in the kitchen.   I’ve adapted the lentil soup here and there, adding more spice, more zing, and replacing fresh tomatoes with canned (it is winter, after all). The result is a thick, almost stew-like soup. The combination of onions, garlic, lentils, bulghur, tomatoes, parsley and spinach is truly addictive. I use a lot of rosemary here. Use more or less, according to your taste. A squeeze of lemon at the end enhances it all.

I made a double batch of this on Saturday. I’ve been known to triple the recipe and put half of it in freezer bags. My freezer and I have become best buds this past year. I’ve come to learn that good food doesn’t have to be made TODAY. It could be made last month. In the case of this lentil soup, it could be made six weeks ago, thawed, heated, and inhaled.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this soup.

Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup
adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 cup dried brown or green lentils
5 cups chicken stock (for vegetarian version use vegetable stock)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (2 large)
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup raw bulghur
1/2 chopped fresh curly parsley, more for garnish
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried rosemary, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1  bag (about 6 oz) of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

Rinse the lentils in a sieve under running water. Bring them to a boil in salted chicken stock. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot. Saute the onions until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cayenne, bay leaves and bulghur. Stir the mixture until the onions are lightly browned and the bulghur smells nutty, about 5 minutes.

Mix in the parsley and tomatoes. When the tomatoes begin to give up their juice, stir in the tomato paste.

Pour the lentils and the stock into the soup pot with the onions and bulghur. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes. Add the rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. If the lentils and bulghur have absorbed too much liquid, add more stock or water. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice.

Just before serving, stir in the spinach and let it wilt in the hot soup. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main course.


2 Responses to “Turkish Lentil and Spinach Soup”

  1. January 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    This recipe is a keeper! We made it over the weekend and it is really savory! Thanks for posting!

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