The lentil is one of the oldest foodstuffs, originating in the Near East, with evidence of culinary usages reaching back to the times before humans produced pottery. Quite simply put, they're an excellent source of nutrition and have been used as such for a long time, in many traditions the world over.
About the soup served at the State Dinner at the Dolmabahçe, Oz has this to say: "A fan-favorite when the grandparents come to town, this pureed soup is made with red lentils, rice, onion, carrot, and garnished with the hot paprika butter, paprika, and fresh mint."
1 carrot, small dice
1 sweet onion, small dice
1 c (237 ml) Red Lentils
1/4 c (59 ml) White Rice
5 c (1.183 L) Water
Juice of 1 lemon
Crushed Red Pepper
1. Sauté onion and carrot in olive oil or clarified butter until the onion begins to become translucent.
2. Add rice, lentils, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until lentils and rice are tender.
3. Purée with immersion blender, or pass through a fine food mill.
|Oz prepares to blend the soup.|
4. Season to taste with ample salt (it will take quite an alarming amount,) pepper, and lemon juice. For our version, we also added hot Hungarian Paprika and crushed red pepper. (Sumac, curry, or any number of other spices could be used to create variations on the theme.) Simmer gently until the flavors have combined—maybe five or ten minutes, and serve immediately. (This soup will dry out on top and form a skin very quickly, so the closer to service it is prepared, the better.)
Garnish the bowls of soup with paprika butter, chopped parsley, and either chiffonaded or whole leaves of mint.