A variety of soups are an essential element of the Turkish food culture.
Turks who migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia never gave up eating soup, the main dish of their traditional food culture, and they enriched the variety of soups in their cuisine with the legumes and vegetables they discovered in Anatolia.
Soup always had a special place in Ottoman cuisine culture. From its establishment to its last period, the Ottoman Empire distributed soup twice a day to everyone in need via soup kitchens and foundations with no discrimination of faith, language, or race.
Soups in Ottoman cuisine were generally cooked with chicken or meat broth, and plenty of legumes were used so that they would be both nourishing and filling. Sour soups were enjoyed then just as they are today. Lemon juice, unripe grape juice, prune juice, and vinegar were always added to soups. Additionally, spices including saffron, long pepper, coriander, cumin, and in later periods, cinnamon, parsley, and mint were also amply added to soups.
In his book of travels, Evliya Çelebi recorded that soup was also cooked in shops that cooked traditional dishes, that there were 555 of these shops, and there were 2,000 chefs working in them. Today, apart from restaurants that only serve soup, tradesmen restaurants that serve traditional dishes also continue to serve soup.
Dried Okra Soup
200 g dried okra / 250 g lamb (diced) / 1 onion / 1 tbsp. tomato puree / 1 tsp. red pepper paste / Juice of 2 lemons / 3 tbsp. vinegar / 2 tbsp. butter / ½ tsp. black pepper / ½ tsp. salt
Boil the dried okra with vinegar, salt, and five cups of water for 5-7 minutes, rinse with cold water. Fry the chopped onions in butter until slightly browned, then add the diced meat, and continue to fry. After frying the meat for 7-8 minutes, add the tomato puree, dried okra, lemon juice, and spices. Add enough water and cook on a low heat for a further 15-20 minutes. Serve hot.
Yogurt and Cracked Wheat Soup
1 cup cracked wheat / 3 cups meat broth / 1 egg / 5 cups strained yogurt / 2 tbsp. flour / 2 tbsp. butter / 1 tsp. salt / 2 tsp. red pepper flakes / 1 tsp. dried mint
Wash the wheat and leave in hot water for 2 hours. Boil the wheat for 45-50 minutes until it begins to split, and drain the water. Beat the egg and flour in a separate saucepan. Add the yogurt, meat broth, boiled wheat, and salt. Cook on a low heat continuously stirring until it boils. If the soup is too thick, add 1-2 cups of water. Fry the red pepper flakes and dried mint in butter, add to the soup and serve.