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Mercimek Çorbasi
Turkish Lentil Soup
Lentils were said by the Prophet to increase sympathy and humility. For this reason, lentil soup is always the first course of dinner in Rufai dergahs.
Total time: 1-¼ hours
3 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
16 cups (1 gallon) stock or water
2 tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter or olive oil
2 cups, finely chopped onions
1 tsp. salt
1 cup bulgur
2 tsp. pepper
½ tsp. cayenne
2 lbs. (4 cups) tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1-½ lbs. cleaned and chopped spinach
3 tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar

In a large soup pot over medium heat, bring 12 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and 2 tsp. salt, lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

In another pot, over medium heat, melt the butter, add the onions and 1 tsp. salt, and stir until the onions are uniformly coated. Lower the heat and let the onions cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Add the bulgur, pepper and cayenne, and stir constantly for several minutes until the mixture is browned. Add to the pot the tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Pour this mixture into the soup pot with the lentils and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes, until the lentils and bulgur are soft. Add more water if a thinner soup is preferred.

Add the spinach on top of the soup, replace the lid, and let steam for 2 minutes, until the spinach is just wilted. Stir the spinach into the soup and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, swirl in the lemon juice or vinegar, and serve immediately.