Ezogelin- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint and Sumac

11 May

I had to make this soup when I read the story behind it. It sounds like an ancient myth but is actually from the 20th century. I love a tragic love story that includes a recipe don’t you?……

Ezo-gelin translates as Ezo The Bride. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travellers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride, didn’t have much luck when it came to finding marital bliss. Her first husband was in love with another woman and she divorced him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup. After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of tuberculosis in the 1950s and has since become a Turkish legend, depicted in popular films and lamented in folksongs. Her name lives on in this popular soup, which is now traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It kind of reminds me of Princess Diana’s story with the husband in love with another woman and the very difficult mother-in-law. Maybe they should have fed it to Kate before her wedding to William!!

I love the idea of a tradition where the modern brides in Turkey are fed a soup with a story to prepare them for their married life ahead. It’s in stark contrast to the custom in the UK where the bride dresses up as a tart in a veil with  L plates stuck to her drinking as many shots of Tequila as possible while watching a slimy male stripper with a can of squirty cream. Give me the soup any day…..

The original soup contains bulgur wheat which I have replaced with quinoa to keep it gluten-free. Sumac is a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is sold in powdered flakes and has a smokey, spicy, lemony flavour. See picture below. If you don’t have any leave it out, just make sure you have the lemon wedges to squeeze over and fresh mint for the top.

Ezogelin Corbasi- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint & Sumac

serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomate frito (tomato paste)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1  tbsp dried mint
  • 150 gr (1 cup) dried lentils, red lentils if possible
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) wholegrain rice
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) quinoa or bulgur wheat
  • about 1 1/2 litres veg stock (or a mix of water & stock)
  • 1 tbsp sumac (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnish
  • sumac for garnish (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 4 or 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Then add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne, tomato & tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add in the lentils, rice & quinoa (or bulgur wheat) and stir to coat in the tomatoey spices. Add the veg stock/water, season well with salt & black pepper, add the dried mint and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes everything is tender.

If you like you can remove a ladleful of the soup and blend it until smooth, then add it back into the soup. This gives it a smoother thicker consistency. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning, add more salt or mint if necessary. Bring back to the boil.

Serve in warm bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, a little sumac and some lemon wedges to squeeze over.

I would think this soup could be a good hangover cure for the bride recovering from a few too may tequilas as well.  Just remember poor Ezo….

18 Responses to “Ezogelin- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint and Sumac”

  1. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom May 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    This does sound like a good hangover cure, especially with the chili flakes and cayenne pepper. Thanks for sharing Ezo’s story too.

  2. veggiegrettie May 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    This looks great. I plan on making it for dinner tonight. Did you use regular paprika or Spanish smoked paprika?

    • foodblogandthedog May 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      I used pimenton dulce (sweet paprika) which I think is the same as the smoked paprika. Either will work though, it’s for colour as well as flavour. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 😀

  3. Sarah May 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    Looks delicious! And I’m with you – I’d rather eat soup than do shots & stick sweaty dollar bills into some dude’s g-string. 🙂

  4. Caroline May 11, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    I love lentil soup, this looks delicious! Cool story too, thanks for sharing. 🙂

  5. happywhennothungry May 12, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    I love lentil soup! This looks delicious especially with the mint and sumac. Great story behind the soup too!

  6. Maris (In Good Taste) May 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    One of my favorite soups is Lentil. This looks like a surefire favorite! I love the suop bowl-so pretty!

  7. thefooddoctor May 12, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    I love lentils, and I’m always looking for new recipes to use them…I really enjoyed reading the story and I have to say your pictures are amazing

  8. tiffany May 12, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    What a sad story for such a comforting soup! Pobre Ezo!

  9. Vicki May 13, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Thanks for sharing this story and this soup! It’s perfect for these not-quite-warm-enough nights we’re having in the northeast!

  10. Saveur May 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    I loved this soup when I was in Turkey and it was the first Turkish dish I made when I came home. I had no idea there wa a story that went with it – thanks for sharing! 🙂

  11. Tara May 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I think my Turkish man has been feeding me this already! Although Im sure he gets it out of a packet the cheat! I’ll show him this recipeand the story asap…… X

  12. Dani May 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    I love this soup! It’s the first recipe I made from the Turkish cookbook I got after visiting Istanbul, and it has become a family favorite. So healthy and satisfying and easy to make. I have never tried it with sumac, though (the recipe I have doesn’t include it.) Will have to seek some out.

  13. Lori January 31, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    Delicious, happy I was able to use my Sumac for something!

  14. Ecstasya February 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm #

    Awesome! Just made it and tasted it. Better than in the restaurant. Didn’t have quinoa or bulgur – I just added more rice. Wonderful recipe!

  15. Berk January 29, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    Thanks a lot for the recipe, and the story! Although I knew of the soup for a while, I actually didn’t know of the accompanying legend. After reading it here, I decided to look into, and it turns out this woman actually did exist. Her real name was Zohre, and she later got the last name of Bozgeyik. She passed away in 1999, and was buried in Turkey after having spent 63 years abroad in Syria.

    And on this picture, it’s interesting to see the name of a soup on a tombstone..



  1. Meal Plan February 21-26, 2012 « Chop & Mix - February 22, 2012

    […] Lunch:  tuna or grilled cheese sandwiches Dinner:  Ezogelin Corbasi – Turkish red lentil soup.  got to love a soup with a story, and well I am turkish! (thanks […]

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