I am in love with Spain. Two summers ago my family and I spent a month in Southern Spain. It was such an adventure. I fell in love with the people, the food, and the general way of life. When I came across the food blog “Cook Eat Live Vegetarian” I was so excited…great vegetarian food based in Andalucía Spain! Every time a new post arrives in my inbox I turn into a giddy school girl because I know the food will be amazing and I know I will get to see pictures of my beloved Spain.
Cook Eat Live Vegetarian is the brainchild of Natalie Ward. Natalie lives in Andalucía with her partner Allen (The Washer Up). They used to own and run a restaurant there called Santiago del Calvario which they sold last year to their good friends.
When they ran the restaurant Allen was in the kitchen and Natalie was front of house. They designed the menus together and have always been slightly obsessed with food. Now that they sold the restaurant, Natalie is in their kitchen cooking every day and Allen does the washing up!
They started their blog to share their enthusiasm for fantastic food with a world flavor. Using seasonal produce, grown locally where possible, they aim to excite with global vegetarian cuisine. Their inspiration comes from the fruits & vegetables they see growing while walking the dog in the “campo” in the morning and they hope to share some of the beauty of Andalucía in the process. Although Natalie is vegetarian, The Washer Up isn’t, so occasionally she shares some recipes that can be adapted to include meat and fish but the majority of the recipes are for fabulous meat-free dishes from around the world that have even the most stubborn carnivores drooling and singing your praises.
I know you will enjoy this soup…it is so tasty. I was drawn to all of the flavors in this soup, but especially the sumac. During my last trip to Northern California to see my parents we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Dish Dash, and they use a lot of sumac. This inspired me to buy some sumac from Penzey Spices, however I had yet to use it until I made this soup. My family enjoyed the soup so much that my five year old declared, “This dinner is awesome!” This recipe can be a bit spicy for little ones, so I add extra broth (see notes within the recipe below).
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
INGREDIENTS – 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 quarts veg stock (or a mix of water & stock) – GRETCHEN USED 2 1/2 quarts
- 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. AT THIS POINT GRETCHEN TURNED OFF THE HEAT AND ALLOWED THE SOUP TO SIT COVERED FOR AN HOUR. IT THICKENED-UP A LOT. SHE THEN ADDED THE EXTRA QUART OF STOCK TO TEMPER THE SPICINESS AND ALLOWED IT TO COME BACK TO A BOIL.
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….
For a printable version of this recipe click here.