Ezogelin - Turkish Red Lentil Soup

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time but every time I make this soup, I fail to document it.  Sigh.  Life takes over, what can I say?

A friend from college and owner of luxury travel agency, Destination Affairs, had been on a recent trip to Dubai.  She sent me this beautiful array of spices that she had picked up from the Souk market there.  I was out of my mind with excitement!  A cook's dream!  Opening that box was like opening a present on Christmas morning.  The excitement was truly the same.  I have to admit that I was hesitant to use them at first because I viewed them as gold. I did not want to use them hastily.  Instead, I wanted to find the perfect recipes to highlight their flavors.  These are truly some of the best spices I have ever used.  The cumin seed was so tasty that you could eat it straight (which I did) and the sumac had the most beautiful deep purplish burgundy color. I wanted to cherish them but then let's face it, spices do not get better with age.  I dove right in!

While on the hunt for different red lentil soup recipes, I came across a soup by the name of Ezogelin.  There is a sad story about a woman (Ezo) who was unlucky in marriage, that is associated with this soup but don't let that deter you from trying it!  It is honestly the perfect soup for a cold winter night (perfect timing, no? lol).  

*Google "Ezogelin" or "the Ezo Bride" to read the story if you are curious about the story behind the soup! 

Ezogelin (Turkish Red Lentil Soup)

2-3 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. of smoked hot paprika
1 tsp. of cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper 
1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
1 tomato, chopped
1 Tbsp. of dried spearmint
1 cup of red lentils, picked over and rinsed

1/4 cup of Basmati rice, rinsed
1/4 cup of quinoa (or bulgar wheat), rinsed
8 cups of water
1 Tbsp. of sumac, more for garnish

juice of one lemon
Himalayan salt 
fresh ground black pepper
fresh mint, chopped for garnish
crumbled feta cheese for serving

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery with a pinch of salt, and cook until they start to brown.   Add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, crushed red pepper, cayenne, tomato, tomato paste, and cook for around 5 minutes or so.
Add in the lentils, rice, quinoa, and stir to coat in the tomato spice mixture.  Pour in the water, add the dried mint, cover, and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the grains and lentils are cooked through.
Add the sumac, lemon juice, and season to taste. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
Serve in large bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, crumbled feta cheese, and an additional pinch of sumac.

Pictures by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe adapted from Cook Eat Live Vegetarian


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