SOUPSONG HAS GONE HARDCOPY!
Turkish Red Lentil "Bride" Soup
(Ezo Gelin Çorbasi)
The origin of this rich Turkish soup is attributed to an astonishingly beautiful girl born in 1909 in the village of Dokuzyol, located on ancient caravan routes in the Barak plain. Ezo had red cheeks and black hair and was adored by camel riders who stopped by her house for water. Her story ends badly, though--her first marriage to a villager was unhappy and she was permitted to forsake him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria and a mother-in-law who couldn't be pleased...and for whom, it is said, she haplessly created this soup. Ezo died of tuberculosis in Syria in 1952, but in the interim had become a legend in her native land in both folksong and film. Her name lives on in this very popular, stick-to-the-ribs soup--which is now traditionally fed to new brides, right before their wedding, to sustain them for what lies ahead. Serve hot to 4-6 people as a substantial first course or a great winter lunch.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan and saute the onions over low heat until they are golden--about 15 minutes. Stir in the paprika, then the lentils and bulgur to coat them in the butter. Add the tomato paste, stock, and hot pepper, bring to a boil, and cook until soft and creamy--about an hour.
When ready to serve, crumble the mint between your palms into the soup. Stir and remove the soup from the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes, then ladle into bowls, serving each with a lemon wedge and a sprinkling of mint leaves (if available) or crushed dried mint.