A Michelin-starred chef’s recipe for a simple soup with big flavour

Kitchen Cabinet: Ahmet Dede shares a dish he grew up eating – spiced lentil soup

Turkish spiced lentil soup with fresh herbs and yoghurt, served with toast.

Turkish spiced lentil soup with fresh herbs and yoghurt, served with toast.

 

I love cooking at home for friends and family and for me it is all about simplicity and big flavours. I don’t like over complicating things.

Spiced lentil soup is a staple in Turkey. It is an iconic dish that I grew up eating. It spells home for me. It is the food memory that defines where I come from. I love cooking it and eating it.

I really enjoy cooking with a few basic ingredients and playing with spices to bring out the best in the ingredients. For me, this is simplicity in a bowl.

Ahmet Dede’s ingredients for Turkish spiced lentil soup.
Ahmet Dede’s ingredients for Turkish spiced lentil soup.

Ahmet Dede was head chef at Michelin-starred Mews in west Co Cork. He plans to launch a new restaurant, Dede at The Customs House, in Baltimore.

TURKISH SPICED LENTIL SOUP

Serves six

Ingredients

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1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp tomato purée
200g red lentils (black or green lentils also work)
2 ltr water (or chicken, beef, vegetable stock)
Natural yoghurt
Squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp chilli powder or flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried mint (or fresh mint or coriander, chopped, if available), plus extra for serving
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

Method

1. Thinly slice the onion and garlic.

2. Add oil to a deep saucepan and sweat the onions and garlic for a few minutes until translucent.

3. Add the tomato purée and keep cooking on low heat till it caramelises, this will take a couple of minutes.

4. Add the lentils and the spices, stir and continue cooking on low heat for another minute.

5. Add the water or stock. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

6. When the lentils are cooked, use a hand blender or a regular blender to blend to a smooth texture. Check the seasoning and add more salt or spices, to your taste.

7. To serve: Add a pinch of salt to the natural yoghurt. I like adding mint, either fresh or dried. Pour the soup into a bowl and drizzle with yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with a slice of toast.

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