20 October 2016
Knidos Cookery Club is off to a wedding soon so we did a quick google to see what Turkey has in the way of wedding-related foodstuffs and chanced upon this soup with a great backstory.
One wedding day tradition in Turkey is to the feed up the bride-to-be with a hearty soup, Ezogelin Çorbası, to help her prepare for the rigours of her wedding day and the subsequent move into the groom’s household.
The name translates as ‘Ezo the Bride’s Soup’ and the recipe comes from the tale of a woman, Ezo, short for Zöhre, who was born in 1909 in a village near Gaziantep, now in south-eastern Turkey on the border with Syria.
She became famed in the region for her her looks and was highly sought after as a bride. Eventually, she married a man from a neighbouring village but unfortunately the marriage didn’t work out. One version of the tale, that has inspired short stories, folk songs, a film and a TV series in Turkey, as well as the soup, has it that her husband loved another so Ezo left him.
In 1936, Ezo married again and moved with her husband over the border to the town of Jarabulus in Syria. She pined for her homeland and to quell her homesickness she would cook a soup that reminded her of Turkey – a filling combination of red lentils, bulgur wheat, rice, tomato paste, herbs and spices. She also used the soup to win over her mother-in-law, a move crucial to finding happiness in her new home.
Ezo had nine children with her second husband, but she only lived to her mid-40s, dying in 1956 in Jarabulus. Her last wish was to be buried on a hillside overlooking her beloved homeland. Her memory lives on in this soup and in the legends that have grown up around her life story.
Ingredients (Makes four servings)
150 g red lentils
50 g coarse bulgur wheat
25 g rice
one medium-sized onion
one or two cloves of garlic
25 ml olive oil
1.2 l warm water
3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste (a more liquid form of tomato purée – if using purée then two tablespoons should suffice)
two teaspoons of dried mint
two teaspoons of chili flakes
sprig of fresh mint
Wash the red lentils, bulgur wheat and rice and soak for two hours in cold water.
Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry for five minutes in the olive oil in a heavy-based pan. Add the red lentils, bulgur wheat and rice, pour in one litre of water and simmer over a low to medium heat for 30 minutes or until everything is cooked.
Add the tomato paste, the dried mint, chili flakes and some black pepper and 200 ml of water and the juice of one lemon and stir well. Simmer for ten or fifteen minutes until the soup is taking on a creamy texture.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and sprinkle more chili flakes over the top. Serve with a slice of lemon and some crusty bread.