Soups may not be the star of Turkish cuisine, but they are always the starter course of a typical Turkish meal and sometimes the favorite choice for breakfast. Turkish people have developed a very rich variety of soups. Soups are made in various ways in different regions, and with ingredients such as beef, chicken, fish, offal, legumes, vegetables, flour, yogurt, and pasta (şehriye and erişte).
In Turkey, soups are usually named after their main ingredient. For instance, if the soup is made with mercimek (lentils), it is called “mercimek çorbası,” (lentil soup); if yogurt is the main ingredient, the name of the soup is “yoğurt çorbası” (yogurt soup). The two mentioned are the most well-known soups in Turkey together with tarhana çorbası (a soup made, among others, with a fermented mixture of grain and yogurt) and ezogelin çorbası (red lentil soup).
Mercimek Çorbası (Lentil Soup): This is the oldest Turkish soup made using red lentils, carrots, potatoes, and onions. It is usually eaten with bread and a squeeze of lemon juice on the top for added flavor. This scrumptious soup is a breakfast specialty and the most popular soup all over the country. It is healthy and filling, is a good protein substitute for vegetarians, and an amazing source of iron.
Ezogelin Çorbası: It is made with red lentils, bulgur, rice, red chili pepper pastes, and dried mint. This hearty soup is a good source of fiber and protein.
Tarhana Çorbası: It is a real distillation of summer's abundance, dried and set aside for the cold months. It contains wheat flour, sheep's milk and yogurt, tomatoes and onions, peppermint and parsley. Reduced to a paste, it's stirred for days before being dried in the sun and broken up into reddish, irregular pieces.
Tarhana is a quick, healthy, and tasty dish. It’s a time-saver when you can’t find enough time to cook. It is dissolved in water or chicken broth and added into butter and salça (a thick paste of peppers and tomatoes). Stirred over a low flame, it's ready in a flash. This great dish, which was discovered in Central Asia, is the very first version of today's ready-made soups.
In reality tarhana is a hymn to diversity: not only in Turkey does its preparation and consumption vary from region to region, even village to village, but each family makes it in a different, unrepeatable way, handing down their recipes from one generation to the next.
İşkembe Çorbası (Tribe Soup): After a long night of drinking, any Turkish friend would suggest eating iskembe soup to guarantee no hangovers the following morning. As a result, it is always possible to find restaurants serving işkembe soup even after midnight. The soup is made with beef tripe and eaten with vinegar and garlic.
Paça Çorbası (Trotter Soup): It is made with lamb legs or head and cooked with garlic and Turkish chili pepper. It is very good for the health of the bones.
Yayla Çorbası: In Turkish cuisine, as would be expected, there are many different yogurt soups that also feature a wide variety of grains and herbs. This smooth soup features yogurt, flour, egg yolks, mint, and rice. While it is flavored with mint, the flour and egg yolks stabilize the yogurt. It results in a creamy, filling, tasty, and, above all, healthy soup.