Simple Anatolian Soups


When it comes to the soups (or really any dish) from Anatolia, the basic things you will find are simplicity, resourcefulness, and creativity. The dishes are meant to fill you up with the nutrition and if you ever meet an Anatolian woman, you will understand how and why. No flimsy handshake would come from this woman, you will get a bear hug with strong arms squeezing the breath out of you. You will find a round face, dotted with wise eyes and a very sincere and an eager person who is ready to put whatever she has in her kitchen right in front of you. And she will make you eat!

Thumbing through the regional dishes in Tugrul Savkay’s book, I noticed over and over how simple soups were pulled together with similar ingredients throughout all the regions in Anatolia. It was an attempt to make everything stretch more, feed more people with whatever they had in hand. The recipes combined dried legumes, beans along with grains. Vegetables were added in most cases to add some bright green color to the soups. In some, homemade dumplings pulled together simply with flour and water, added more volume to the soups. Some included protein in the shape of ground beef, stew meat or even fish, or dairy was added to lighten it up.

The soups carry some authentic names, but for simplicity I called this one Anatolian soup. My version. You might find more soups here because it is exceptionally cold for SC here and I am using up my pantry contents in various soups. Because there is no “wrong” ingredient in Anatolian inspired soups. Mix and match chickpeas, cannellini beans, navy beans, or green lentils with rice, bulgur, wheat, barley or quinoa. Add some dark green leaf or any root vegetable for a good measure. Simmer in a nice broth and bring your spoon and bread. Sizzle some butter and paprika in a small pan and drizzle over your bowl. That is all you need on a grayish winter day. And simplicity is actually all I need in 2014.




 Anatolian Soup

Adapted from Tugrul Savkay’s Halk Yemekleri cookbook.

  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 8 cups of water
  • 100 grams barley
  • 1-1/3 cup (200 gr) cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup (150 gr) frozen or fresh Italian pole green beans
  • 3 cups shredded collard greens (thick stems removed)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup (1 medium size)coarsely diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (you can substitute lemon juice)
  • Lemon juice for serving
  • Salt, black pepper and Aleppo pepper to taste

1. Wash barley several times in a small bowl, drain.

2. In a heavy pot, add stock, 3 cups of water and barley. Bring to boil. Simmer until barley is cooked.

3. Once barley is done, add the remaining water, chickpeas and green beans. Bring to a boil once more.  Turn the heat down, simmer until the green beans are cooked.

4. Stir in the collard greens. Simmer until they are wilted.

5. Meanwhile when you add the greens, in a separate saute pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and saute until they lose their white color and turn soft. Turn the heat down and add tomato paste. With the back of a wooden spoon, integrate the paste to the onions and olive oil very well.

6. Once paste covered the onions, take it off the heat. Add several tablespoons of water from the soup pot into the saute pan, scraping the bottom and the sides of the saute pan well. Add the contents of the saute pan into the soup pan. Adjust the taste with salt and peppers. Once all ingredients thoroughly cook, add pomegranate molasses or lemon juice. Simmer for another minute.

7. Serve with crusty bread.


  1. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    11:53 am
    Jan 5, 2014

    Simple yet so comforting and flavourful…this soup is totally right up my alley, Ilke.
    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  2. by John@Kitchen Riffs
    1:49 pm
    Jan 5, 2014

    What a great soup! I love barley, but have never combined it with collard greens. Terrific idea! This looks wonderful – thanks.

  3. by Susan
    8:20 pm
    Jan 5, 2014

    I just made a large pint of soup today also to help warm us in this frigid cold. Your soup sounds as good as a big hug :)

  4. by Susan
    8:20 pm
    Jan 5, 2014

    I meant pot of soup :)

  5. by Turkey's For Life
    2:22 pm
    Jan 8, 2014

    Oh, liking the addition of Aleppo pepper. Anything to do with spice and we’re there! :) Turkish soups are just fab – like you said, making the most of ingredients that are around. We’ve learned a lot about not wasting food while we’ve been in Turkey. :)

  6. by April Ozbilgin
    4:39 pm
    Jan 8, 2014

    Wow, that soup looks yummy. Afiyet olsun!

  7. by A Cat From London
    3:05 pm
    Jan 9, 2014

    Looks delicious. Perfect winter soup. Ellerine sağlık!

  8. by Shannon
    8:56 am
    Jan 26, 2014

    Oh fiddles! I saw Pomegranate molasses when I was up in St. Louis on Friday, but wasn’t sure how to use it! I did happen to get some Aleppo peppers, though!

    This looks lovely. Thank you.

  9. by Mrs Ergül
    10:55 pm
    Feb 10, 2014

    I have got some pearl barley that needs using!!

    Handshake-wise, I can’t stand other than firm ones, Anatolian woman or otherwise!

  10. by Aurica
    2:50 pm
    Mar 4, 2014

    so simple to prepare it, but in the same time so fast and easy to eat it and enjoy it :D

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