Almost everyone enjoys a hearty bowl of warming, tasty soup on a cold winter's day. One of the best, but least well known soups is simple and easy to prepare, made from a few plain ingredients and can serve as a light meal or a starter to a main course. I discovered this recipe when travelling in Turkey where Ezogelin Corbasi, or "soup of the bride", is commonly served all over the country. I was intrigued by reference to the word 'bride' in the name and interested to discover the story that went with it. It turns out that the origin of the soup and its name can be attributed to an exceptional woman called Ezo who lived in the south eastern part of Turkey. Known for her beauty, she was very much admired by travellers along the caravan route who regularly stopped to rest in her village. Many of the men hoped for her hand in marriage but, unfortunately for Ezo she did not have much luck in finding marital bliss. Her first husband was abusive and she was permitted to leave him on the grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she had to deal with a difficult mother in law who she could never please and in trying to do so she created this soup. Ezo passed away in the 1950's and has since become a Turkish legend depicted in both folklore and film. Her name lives on with this stick-to-the-ribs soup which is now often fed to Turkish brides before their wedding to sustain them for what lies ahead.
Serves 4 to 6 people
3 tblspns ghee or butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tspn paprika
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
½ cup fine bulgur wheat*
2 tblspns tomato paste
500 ml chicken or beef consomme
5 cups water
1/4 tspn cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
salt and pepper
- Melt the ghee in a large saucepan and saute the onions and garlic until soft and golden - about 15minutes.
- Stir in the paprika, lentils and bulgur and coat well with the ghee.
- Add the tomato paste, consomme, water, and chilli flakes, stir well and let simmer for an hour until soft and creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Can be served with a dollop of sour cream, sprinkled with mint or extra cayenne pepper(optional) and plenty of warm crusty bread.
The above quantities make a thick soup; add extra water if you prefer a thinner soup.
Note: * Bulgur is a cereal made from durum wheat and is commonly used in middle eastern food. It can be found in some supermarkets in the health food section, otherwise, it is available from continental food suppliers.