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Ezo Gelin Soup – Ezo the Bride Soup

Now that the cold weather has well and truly set in, I’ve whipped out the slow cooker and am looking to expand my hearty soup repertoire. One of my favourites from my time in Turkey, is Ezo Gelin soup, Ezo the Bride’s soup.

Legend has it that a beautiful woman names Ezo lived in the east of Turkey in the early 20th century. She had ruby-red lips and jet-black hair and was admired by the many nomads who passed through her village on the silk trading route. Her family had high hopes for her marriage.

Unfortunately, for all her admirers, poor Ezo didn’t do too well in the marriage department. She divorced her first husband after he fell for another woman. Her second husband took her to Syria where she suffered terribly from homesickness and fell prey to an over-bearing, difficult-to-please Mother-in-Law. It is supposedly for her that Ezo created this delicious lentil soup.

After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of Tuberculosis and has since become a legend, depicted in folksongs and films. Her name has been immortalised in this soup, which is traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that may lie ahead.

A sad, depressing story, but a delicious soup.


1 cup red lentils

1/3 cup rice or bulgur

1 tbsp pepper paste

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tbsp dry mint leaves

1/4 tsp black pepper

paprika and dried red pepper- as much as you like

1 tbsp olive oil


6 cups of water


Heat the oil, onion, garlic and salt in a saucepan over low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until soft. Add the tomato and pepper paste (if you can’t find pepper paste, try sumac) and stir. Then add the red lentils, rice/bulgur and the water and stir well. Stir in the dry mint leaves and black pepper and bring to a slow boil and cover.

Stir occasionally until rice is cooked and lentils have blended in with the soup. Cooking time is approximately 1 hour.

Upon serving, heat butter (1 tablespoon per 2-3 servings) in a small pan, and add 1/2 tablespoon of paprika once it has melted. Pour over the soup. Serve soup with a slice of lemon and fresh white Turkish bread.

Afiyet Olsen – enjoy and think positive thoughts of marriage ladies! I hope your Mother-in-Law likes it!