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Author Notes: This is my version of the oh so humble Turkish lentil soup that can be found in every worker's lunch place (esnaf lokantasi). It is cheap, wholesome and delicious. I never grow tired of lentil soup, especially on a cold winter day. Sometimes I vary the veggies I put in depending on my mood. The croutons can be whipped up in no time from day-old bread and the spiced red pepper flakes (pul biber) found here in Turkey, but Spanish smoked paprika or any chili powder will do. —Ulli Allmendinger
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups home-made vegetable (from scraps) or chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter or ghee
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup day-old good bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- 1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper flakes (Spanish smoked paprika also works wonderfully)
- Rinse red lentils and soak in water for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
- Add lentils, chopped onion, red pepper, bay leaf and 6 cups of broth of your choice to a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are beginning to dissolve.
- Remove bay leaf and puree soup in a blender or with a hand-blender until fine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- In a small pan, melt butter, then add mint and saute for a few seconds. Turn off heat and set aside.
- For the croutons, melt butter with red pepper flakes, then add bread cubes and fry in the pan until reddish golden.
- Serve the soup drizzled with minted butter, a few spicy croutons and a squeeze of lemon. Afiyet olsun!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Cheap Feast