Friday, January 23, 2015

Alca Corba: Turkish Lentil, Chickpea & Bulgur Soup

Rich, vibrant and delicious, this classic Turkish Alca Corba Soup which features a flavourful and nutritious combination of bright red lentils, plump chickpeas and whole-grain bulgur, is a staple of many Anatolian kitchens. The third largest producer of lentils in the world, it should come as no surprise that this humble legume features so dominantly in Turkish cuisine. Whether puréed as a thick and satisfying or light thin broth, this soup is wonderfully textured, slightly spicy and deeply aromatic, with a drizzle of sizzling spiced herbed butter and dollop of sour cream swirled in at the end as a final flourish.

Turkish Alca Corba Lentil, Chickpea & Bulgur Soup
Serves 6

1/2 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and chopped
Salt, to taste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp Turkish red peppers or crushed red peppers, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups dried red lentils, soaked in water overnight, washed and drained
1/4 cup Turkish bulgur or wheatberries
6 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp dried mint, for garnish
1 cup sour cream, for garnish

Flavoured oil:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp smokey Turkish ground red pepper

Drain the chickpeas and set them aside. Heat the oil in a large pot, then add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the jalapeno and salt, and continue cooking, stirring often, for 2 minutes more.

Add the cumin, paprika, red pepper and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until the spices are aromatic. Add the chickpeas, lentils, and bulgur, and cook while stirring, for 30 seconds or until they're coated with spices. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the foam on the surface of the liquid, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are tender and the lentils have almost turned into a purée. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup into a creamy consistency.

While the soup is cooking make the flavoured oil. Warm the olive oil in a pan with the butter until the butter has melted and the foaming subsides. Remove from heat and stir in the dried tarragon and paprika.

To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls with a swirl of sizzling herbed butter over top, a dollop of sour cream, and garnished with dried mint and baby corn sprouts.