Soup | Çorba
Soup, called çorba in Turkish, is an import part of the regional cuisine. In fact, there are entire cafes (çorbacı) solely dedicated to the production and consumption of çorba. Soups are consumed at all times of days including breakfast. Thin soups are frequently served as a first course. According to local urban lore, soup has the ability to both prevent and cure hangover. After bars and clubs close, çorba cafes fill with late night revelers in need of treatment. There are a wide variety of regional soups available in Turkey. The most commonly served soup is lentil (mercimek çorbası).
Turkish Soup Varietes
Badem Çorbası | Almond Soup
Sweet and savory badem çorbası features almonds. Ingredients include beef broth, flour, milk and nutmeg. Badem çorbası is traditionally garnished with pomegranate. The soup is said to have originated in the Ottoman kitchen of Edirne, Turkey (where almonds grow abundantly). Edirne served as the third capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1363 to 1453. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent is said to have served badem çorbası to guests at circumcision feasts of his sons Prince Cihangir and Prince Bayezid.
Bridal Soup | Ezogelin Çorbası
Ezogelin çorbası features bulgar and red lentils. The creation of the recipe is attributed to an extraordinarily beautiful woman from Gaziantep, Turkey named Zöhre (nicknamed Ezo). The tragic story of Ezo Gelin (Ezo the Bride) has been featured in film, poetry and folk music. It is said that Ezo, despite her beauty, did not find love easily. She was eventually wed to Şitto in prearranged marriage. After living happily for many years, Şitto left for military service and never returned. Her heartbreak is said to have only intensified her beauty. For years after her separation from Şitto, Ezo turned away marriage proposals from rich and poor men alike. In a second prearranged marriage, Ezo was sent away from her home in Turkey across the border to a neighboring village in Syria. Despite having nine children, her sadness and heartbreak only deepened. In her twilight, Ezo requested to be buried overlooking her village in Turkey. It is said that her final resting place is located at the crest of Bozhöyük Mountain on Syrian – Turkish border. Today, ezogelin çorbası is consumed as a testament to true love.
Cabbage Soup: Lahana Çorbası
Lahana çorbası features cabbage as the featured ingredient. Said to promote weight loss, this soup is a favorite of the health conscience and vegetarians alike. Variations of lahana çorbası include the addition of beans or meat stock. Lahana çorbası is commonly garnished with red pepper flakes and melted butter.
Lebanese Soup | Lebeniye Çorbası
Lebeniye çorbası features chickpeas and yoghurt. Although there are many variations, meatballs or beans are common additions. Believed to have originated in Lebanon, the Southeastern Anatolia city of Gaziantep is well-known for lebeniye çorbası and many other varieties of yoghurt based soups. Lebeniye çorbası is commonly served during Ramadan festivities.
Lentil soup | Mercimek Çorbası
Mercimek çorbası features lentils as the key ingredient. Variations of mercimek çorbası are made with the inclusion of a variety ingredients including potato, onion, tomato, and tomato paste. Mercimek çorbası is commonly garnished with red pepper flakes or a mixture melted butter and red pepper flakes. Traditionally, lentil soups are served with a lemon wedge. Prepared in nearly home and served in nearly every restaurant, mercimek çorbası is a staple in Turkish cuisine.
Sheep Head Soup | Kelle Paça Çorbası
Literally translated, kelle paça is head and trotter. The stock for kelle paça çorbası is made from sheep head and shinbones. Common ingredients include garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano. Kelle paça çorbası is a regional specialty in the Southern Anatolian Region of Gaziantep. Believed to prevent hangovers, sheep head soups are a late night favorite.
Sultan’s Soup | Sultan Çorbası
Sultan çorbası is said to have originated in the royal kitchens of the Ottoman palaces. Sultan’s soup is traditionally made with blanched almonds, chicken, chicken peas, egg yolk and heavy cream. It is commonly served in restaurants located in Istanbul’s Old City.
Tarhana Soup | Tarhana Çorbası
Made in villages throughout Turkey in the late summmer, tarhana is a method for preserving peppers for the winter. In the simplest form, tarhana is a dough made from peppers and yoghurt. Variations of the dough include the additions of crushed wheat, onion, tomatoes and herbs. After the dough is prepared, it placed under the sun to dry. Finally, the sun-dried dough is crushed into a fine powder. Tarhana çorbası is prepared by combining tarhana powder with water and/or stock. Variations of tarhana based soups include the addition of meat, vegetables and spices.
Tarhana çorbası is sometimes called the world’s first instant soup. According to local folklore, the first tarhana çorbası was created when the Sultan arrived unannounced to the home of a poor peasant. With nothing else to offer, she quickly prepared a soup made from dried peppers and yoghurt. She presented the humble offering to the Sultan calling it dar hane çorbası. Literally translated, dar hane means poor house. Over time, the word evolved into tarhana.
Tripe Soup | İşkembe Çorbası
İşkembe çorbası is prepared from tripe (cow’s stomach) and served with vinegar and garlic. Believed to prevent hangovers, tripe soups are a late night favorite.
Yoghurt Soup | Yayla Çorbası
Yayla çorbası draws its name from the highland meadows in Black Sea Region of Turkey. Yayla çorbası features yoghurt as the key ingredient. Yogurt soups are commonly prepared with a variety of herbs, rice and chickpeas.
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