Lentil, Silverbeet and Lamb Kofte Soup

11:30 am on 28 March 2011

Turkey: Recipes and tales from the road
Published by Murdoch Books



(Serves 6)


  • 220 g (7 ¾  oz/1 cup) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/ ¼ cup) olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • (concentrated purée)
  • 2 tablespoons Turkish pepper paste*
  • 2 ½  teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 250 g (9 oz / 1⅓ cups) brown lentils
  • 2.25 litres (80 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 1 bunch silverbeet (Swiss chard), trimmed, stems and ribs removed and leaves
  • finely chopped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
  • dried chilli flakes, to serve
  • extra virgin olive oil, to serve


  • 90 g (3 ¼ oz/ ½ cup) fine burghul (bulgur)
  • 75 g (2 ¾ oz/ ½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) lamb
  • 2 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
  • (concentrated purée)
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Turkish pepper paste is a thick red paste made from chillies and salt. It is mainly used as a flavouring, and is available from Middle Eastern and Turkish grocery stores and some delicatessens.


Put the chickpeas in a saucepan with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, or until tender. Drain the chickpeas, cover and reserve.

Meanwhile, to make the köfte, rinse the burghul and drain well, using your hands to squeeze out as much excess liquid as possible. Combine in a food processor with the flour, lamb, tomato paste, allspice and cinnamon; season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Take scant teaspoonfuls of the mixture at a time and roll into neat balls using your hands. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until needed.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5–6 minutes, or until softened. Add the tomato paste, pepper paste, oregano and bay leaf and cook, stirring, for another 1 minute. Add the lentils and chicken stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add the chickpeas and cook for 3–4 minutes to heat through, then stir in the silverbeet. Bring the soup back to a gentle simmer and carefully stir in the köfte; cook over low heat for 6–7 minutes, or until the silverbeet has wilted and the köfte are cooked through.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve the soup in large bowls with the lemon wedges, yoghurt, chilli flakes and olive oil passed separately.

John Hawkesby’s wine recommendation

Spy Valley Envoy 2009

Coopers Creek 'The Little Rascal' 2008

From Nine To Noon

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