Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Zaatar Oil

Adapted from Milk Street

Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Za'atar Oil


  • 3 tablespoon salted butter (I use 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 medium yellow onion cut into 1/2 inch-dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons long-grain white rice
  • 5 cups water
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper (I use zaatar)
  • Chopped fresh mint leaves, to serve (optional)
  • Lemon wedges, to serve (optional)



In a large saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Once it has stopped foaming, add the onion then sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste, paprika and cumin, then sauté for 1 minute.


Add the lentils, rice, water and 2 teaspoons salt, then bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a lively simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and rice are tender and broken down, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. I briefly use an immersion blender to slightly cream up the soup.


Meanwhile (if using Aleppo pepper), in a small skillet over medium, heat the olive oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add the Aleppo pepper cook until a few bubbles appear and the oil is bright red. Remove from heat and set aside. If using za'atar, no need to heat the oil.


Serve the soup with Aleppo pepper or za'atar oil drizzled over each serving. Serve with mint and lemon wedges.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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