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Dec 7, 2009 03:24 PM

bereket lentil soup secret?

Anyone had the lentil soup at Bereket turkish kabab house on houston (btwn 1 & A)? Well, I know people have, because I read other glowing reports. I've been loving that soup, and wondering what's in it for too long now. I've tried no less than 20 recipes for "Turkish Lentil Soup" and "Ezo Gelin" and "Mercimek", and I've never even come close. A lot of the recipes I read obviously aren't the same style, e.g. they lack mint or even use brown lentils! Hey, it's always a good meal -- It's not hard to make lentil soup into a good meal. But there's something about Bereket's that is like crack, and I'm dying to know what it is. Any thoughts?

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  1. I'd love to know as well (and, btw, I've discovered a Middle Eastern place in Williamsburg that serves a lentil soup that's just as good on Bedford Ave between N. 7th and N. 6th Sts)--one thing I do know that they use is heavy cream!

    7 Replies
    1. re: urbanp

      no cream at bereket. i'll try it out. incidentally, there's a place on 14th and 8th ave manhattan that i've been curious to try for a while. i can't guarantee it, but i had a really good feeling about it when i saw it on the menu!

      1. re: urbanp

        oh wait. I just realized you were saying they use heavy cream at Bereket. Are you positive? How do you know? I'll admit, we always describe the soup as "buttery", but I don't actually ever taste dairy. And, despite the orange grease that sometimes accrues, it's a fairly light soup.....

        1. re: snackd

          I brought a friend to Bereket to try the lentil soup and she said she suspected there was cream in it--when she asked one of the people behind the counter they responded in the positive.

            1. re: smokeandapancake

              this was in response to a different post...

        2. re: urbanp

          that is great to know. any idea if they use cream as well (in wburg)? this is interesting as i'm lactose intolerant and never had a bad reaction after bereket.

          1. re: urbanp

            fwiw, i finally tried the soup @place on Bedford. it was tasty, lots of spices. but bereket blows them out of the water. no comparison. run of the mill. good soup. but a different league.

            i also don't believe that it has cream in it -- if so, it's not much at all.

          2. well, i guess i can believe there is a small amount of cream. but i don't think it would be much. great sleuthing!! someone else suggested that there might be palm oil in it -- apparently this is common in restaurants whenever you see the Tasty Orange Grease? -- but I'm not familiar with it's taste. any thoughts?

            this soup is a funny thing, because the flavors are so well balanced that it's hard even to pick them out. i swear i must have had that soup ten times before i realized i was eating mint! i always feel like there's another spice in there like that, that if i could just *identify* it, i would be able to taste it every time. like, OH, it's coriander! but i think i've smelled everything in my spice rack and there's no matches........

            oh, btw i did talk to one of the cooks one time, a while back. i asked what was in the soup, it's so tasty, and he said let me tell you. at this point my heart started beating faster... but his ingredient list was so vague as to include "sauce" (as in secret ~) and omit lentils! i asked if there was butter, and i *think* he answered in the afirmative (maybe these guys just say yes no matter what ingredient you're asking about?). i asked what it was called and he said it was MERCIMEK. but like i said above, i've tried a few mercimek recipes since then and gotten nowhere.

            i think i'll try the place on 14th street today.

            3 Replies
            1. re: snackd

              Sauce: he could be referring to salca (the c should have a cedilla on it), a delicious Turkish paste/spread of sundried tomatoes, olive oil, and salt that's not yet imported commercially to the US.

              1. re: snackd

                have you come across any decent recipes? i so much prefer red or yellow lentil soups with a thicker consistency than the brown lentil soups. i am so sad hot pita on waverly closed, i think their soup was in the egyptian style.

                1. re: emma

                  i have long made a simple curry dal with yellow lentils, lots of turmeric, lots of indian curry powder. it's great, but very different. for turkish variety, do a search for turkish lentil soup, or ezo gelin corbasi / mercimek corbasi. again, i think it's easy to make tasty yellow lentil soup. you really can't go wrong, and the little bit of mint that's commonly used in turkish preparations is a great touch (don't overdo it -- you want just enough that you can barely identify it)....... but bereket has something special that puts it in its own league! i've got to figure out what it is!

                  i tried istanbul grill, the place on 14th street, and it was tasty but lame in comparison.

                  surely there's a world-class palette on here who is familiar with turkish cooking who can taste the bereket soup and tell us the secret???

              2. I love love love the soup at Bereket. This is the closest recipe I have ever found:


                2 Replies
                1. re: 112ktchn

                  Hmm. I've tried a variety of Mercimek recipes, and never gotten close. Needless to say the devil's in the details here. Do you have any more specific recommendations on quantities & such? I haven't had Bereket's in a couple months, but I'm pretty sure I don't remember tasting cumin. Do you disagree?

                  I've been trying to make this stuff at home for like seven, eight years now. And still failing!

                  1. re: snackd

                    In needs lots of dried mint - at least 4 Tbsp.
                    You could try it without the cumin I guess - I put it in, but may-be just a tsp. to start then see how it goes.
                    I also don't bother with the tomato paste - tried it once and it tastes more like Bereket without it.

                2. I actually got the recipe in writing from them back in 1994. I was a several time a week regular and very friendly with them, and when they found out I was moving to Georgia they gave it to me. But sadly I lost the recipe during the move and never got to make it.

                  Just thinking about it, I wonder why it fell off my radar? I haven't had the soup in the last few years. I always liked it with a good swirl of their homemade hot sauce. Not mixed in but laid on top and each spoonful would have none, some, or lots of the sauce for different flavors in each one.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: JMF

                    I can't believe you. All I can say is that my heart leapt when I read the two-line preview of this on my phone, then sank to new lows when I got to your full message. I just don't know why you would toy with me so........ I am so bummed. I've been asking then what's in this soup for years and they react instinctually to my eagerness by leading me on, and leading me astray.

                    I'm tempted to ask whose side you're on, who you are working for ;-) .....

                    But instead I just sigh.

                    Incidentally, I tried 112ktchn's recipe last night. It's delish if lacking Bereket's secret ingredient. It had been a bit since I cooked red lentils and I noticed that the tart flavor of the lentils themselves is actually not present in Bereket's soup. I wonder if there is a different kind of Turkish red lentil?

                    1. re: snackd

                      Tell them you're moving to Georgia.

                      1. re: snackd

                        So sorry to bum you out. After reading your original post, and fondly remembering the soup and lost recipe, I was bummed out myself. I would love to make it at home as well.

                        I go past Bereket several times a month, and somehow keep forgetting to get some of their soup and a shawarma sandwich. It's like the place has slipped out of my head.

                        Maybe it's because I'm never hungry anymore when I drive by, because the only reason I am in the city anymore is to attend food, wine, spirits, and cocktail events several times a week.

                        1. re: JMF


                          Didn't realize you still spent time in the city. That being the case, I'd say you have an assignment. Wouldn't be surprised if some of the same folks work there from the mid-nineties. Why don't you see what you can find out from them?

                      2. re: JMF

                        I forgot to add, that the generous squeeze of lemon on top really makes the soup.

                      3. any luck with that recipe?? I miss it so much too!