Bride Soup/ Ezo Gelin Çorbası

Soup is not only one of the most comforting of dishes when we have weather like we’ve been having, with chilly rain on the Virginian earth two days in a row— reminding me that I’m so thankful for times of respite and ease in what feels like a long year coming.

I often turn to soup at breakfast time during the cold and snowy months, incorporating a variety of grains, vegetables, herbs, and broth for taste and for its beneficial value to our diets.

Today, I’m making one of my favorite soups of all time using these beautiful Turkish red lentils. Aren’t they like plump, little jewels?

I have heard stories that this recipe’s origin was a tragic tale of a beautiful Turkish girl who was unlucky in love but who was a fierce daughter of her nation of birth. That’s how I will remember her, anyway. I’ve grown tired of the narrative of the strong woman. I’m not impressed by repression and self sacrifice. I want a world of wild, free, fierce women who go for what they want, are unapologetic about it, and get what they deserve.

In the meantime, we honor ourselves when we honor our bodies.

Pro tip: especially if you’re using organic veggies, a great way to minimize waste is to save the skin of the vegetables you use. I will often add them to ziploc and freeze them until I have enough to make a broth. I choose to not use too many potato skins because the broth becomes too brown. Onion skins color it nicely.

I am reminded of the Turkish phrase, “afiyet olsun,” literally, “may it contribute to your health,” when anyone compliments a meal. The basic idea of food having direct influence over our the health and functioning of our bodies is such an established idea, it’s built into a culture. How have we forgotten this piece of wisdom?

In what ways has the last year brought you closer to yourself? I wonder what things we will continue with as things become a bit more calm. Will we keep the vulnerable in our hearts? Will we continue to shop consciously?

In this light, I have decided to take Virginia’s Vittles on a journey. I’m expanding into a business that supports other women and minority small business owners. I will be posing more information on my social networks- you’re welcome to join me in those spaces also.

If you happen to have any fresh or dry mint, that is a great addition to this soup, added in while you make a tomato-based gravy that enhances the lentils and vegetables.

See those little specks? That’s mint from a farm in Crozet, Virginia! Mint is a nice addition to salads and soups, especially in the summer. Mint is generally cooling and makes a great tea with honey added.

More on that later… I’m so excited to share more with you as this all develops.

Bride Soup/ Ezo Gelin Çorbası

Serves 4-6

1/4 cup red lentils, washed generously
1 medium-sized carrot, skinned
1 medium-sized potato, skinned
1 small onion
6 cups water
1/4 cup butter with 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried mint
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 cup milk

Add water and lentils to a medium-sized pot and set flame to medium. Grate the carrot and potato; finely chop onion and add to the pot. Bring to a boil, making sure to skim any foam that drifts to the surface. Boil until everything is soft. With an immersion blender, puree the mixture and pour into a large bowl while you make the gravy.

Add butter and oil to the pot. When it becomes warm, gently fry the tomato paste for 2-3 minutes, then add seasonings to this mixture. Add the pureed vegetables and whisk energetically until everything is incorporated. Add the lemon and milk and stir to combine, making sure to stir frequently while the soup comes to a boil. Keep the boil going for 30 seconds, then turn off the flame.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot. Add a wedge of lemon and a salad if you’re feeling cute.

Afiyet olsun (may it contribute to your health).