Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta

Tekke çorbası is a little known Turkish soup packed with flavour.
Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in a white, patterned soup bowl on wooden table, seen from above
Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in a white, patterned soup bowl on wooden table, seen from above
Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in a white, patterned soup bowl on wooden table, seen from above
Vidar Bergum

My favourite tomato soup is Turkish, contains both minced meat and home made pasta, and is an absolute delight when it comes to flavour. It’s not the famous of Turkish dishes – even in Turkey – but it should be!

On occasion, my partner will send me text messages containing nothing but a simple link. No context, just the link.

This time, it was more than enough.

The title – tekke çorbası – rang no bells. Except to give away that this was some sort of recipe for a soup, çorba being the Turkish word for soup.

But a quick look at the recipe was more than enough to make time to try it as soon as the next day.

What is tekke çorbası and where does it come from?

Tekke çorbası is a Turkish tomato soup with minced meat and fresh pasta. This may sound like a “bolognese style” soup. but the flavourings make it anything but.

Key here are chili flakes and dried mint, a classic combination in Turkish soups.

I know dried mint sounds weird in a tomato based soup, but I urge you to try it. It’s truly an excellent way to add an interesting as well as delicious layer of flavour.

Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in a white, patterned soup bowl, seen from eye level

The soup is local to to Kütahya, a town in central Anatolia which to me was best known for being the home of one of the country’s major commercial ceramic brands.

As far as I can gather, tekke çorbası is little known elsewhere. It’s not mentioned in any of my Turkish cookery books.

Perhaps the name can give us further clues of its origin?

Tekke is a word of religious connotations. It’s used for buildings used for spiritual retreats for followers of Sufism.

Perhaps one such tekke in the Kütahya region served this soup as their speciality? I can only speculate-

How to make this soup

The brilliant thing about this soup is its depth of flavour, while being so easy to make. It really tastes as if it’s been pottering away on the stove all day.

Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in pot, seen from eye level

Yet, it’s quite quick and easy to make. And with ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards!

You start off by frying the meat and onion. Once cooked, add garlic, tomato paste and red pepper paste.

Red pepper paste is commonly used to flavour Turkish dishes, and I recommend getting it if you can. If you can’t find it, you can always substitute more tomato paste.

Finally, add fresh tomatoes, spices and water. Simmer for a bit, add the pasta, et voila! Your soup is done as soon as the pasta is done.

The only element here that may require a little extra from you is the pasta. It’s supposed to be home made!

Since this is a soup, the pasta used is rather rustic and quick to put together. Certainly achievable.

Of course, if you prefer, you may skip this entirely and use dried pasta. It’ll work well too. But I recommend trying the fresh pasta for a more delightful texture. It really makes a difference.

Pasta in Turkish cuisine

If you’re new to Turkish cuisine, you may be surprised to hear of fresh pasta. Isn’t it all about kebabs and böreks? What is this Italian ingredient doing in a classic Turkish dish?

Well, pasta has always been a key part of Turkish cuisine.

Manti in a person's hand
Mantı, made Kayseri style. Photo: Bahar Kitapcı

Mantı, often described as “Turkish ravioli”, is one of Turkish cuisine’s most beloved dishes. They’re basically tiny dumplings, made in a variety of shapes. Most commonly, it’s served with a yoghurt sauce and chili butter.

The dish is not, however, something the Turks learned from Italians. Instead, it can be traced back to Mongols.

Erişte, a rustic, hand cut pasta usually taking the shape of matchsticks, is commonly available at markets. It’s a popular everyday dish, and, if Wikipedia is to be believed (I’ve not done any independent research on this particular matter), can be traced back to Northern China.

As such, there are a number of traditional Turkish dishes we now can classify as “pasta”.

How to serve this Turkish tomato soup with meat and pasta

This soup is a rustic and hearty dish that stands well on its own two feet as dinner in its own right. If serving as dinner, I’d suggest a fresh salad to go alongside.

If you don’t mind soup with soup, a liquidy cacık (Turkish “tzatziki soup”) is a great match.

Personally, I like making it one half of the dinner. It works a treat alongside börek

Serves 3-4 as a main course, more as a starter or side dish.

Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta in a white, patterned soup bowl on wooden table, seen from above

Turkish tomato soup with meat & pasta

Yield: 3-4 servings as main course

Tekke çorbası is a little known Turkish soup packed with flavour.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 150 g (5 ¼ oz) minced meat
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 40 g (3 Tbsp) tomato paste
  • 20 g (1 ½ Tbsp) sweet red pepper paste (tatlı biber salçası) (or more tomato paste)
  • 400 g (14 oz) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper)
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • 1 ltr (4 cups) boiling water
  • 160 g fresh pasta (see below) or 100 g dried pasta
  • salt and pepper

Pasta dough

  • 100 g white flour (pasta flour, if you like)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 Tbsp water
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Start by making the pasta dough. Mix the flour with a pinch of salt. Crack in the egg. Mix well, adding water by the tablespoon until you have a firm dough. Knead the dough until fairly smooth, 3-5 minutes. I usually do this by hand, but you can also use a mixer. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (or equivalent) and leave in the fridge for half an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a thick bottomed pot over medium heat. Fry the meat and onion in butter and olive oil until the onion is translucent and soft, but not coloured, 8-10 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid burning.
  3. Add the garlic, tomato paste and sweet red pepper paste. Fry for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the tomatoes, pul biber and dried mint. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the water, mix well and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. While the soup is cooking, roll the pasta as thin as you prefer. I like this one roughly the thickness of lasagna sheets. You can do this manually with a rolling pin, or with the help of a pasta machine. If using a pasta machine, run it through at setting zero 8-10 times, folding it in half between each turn, then up the setting by one each time until you're happy. I usually stop at 4 or 5. Whichever your method, make sure to use plenty of flour to avoid the pasta dough sticking to your surfaces.
  7. Cut the pasta into 1-2 cm (½-¾ in) squares. They don't need to be completely uniform or even very pretty.
  8. Add the pasta to the soup while stirring the soup well. Leave to simmer until the pasta is cooked and floats to the surface, 2-3 minutes. If using dried pasta, add another 100 ml (⅖ cup) of liquid and check the packet instructions for cooking times. If you like, you can also add already cooked pasta, in which case you just need to heat it through. When the pasta looks cooked, take off the heat and leave for a few minutes.
  9. Scoop the soup into bowls and scatter a little freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley before serving. Make sure to have a few wedges of lemon nearby for squeezing into the soup for those who so desire.
Get more delicious recipes in my newsletter
Get more delicious recipes in my free newsletter

Share or save:

Up next →

One Response

  1. I’m so happy I found your page. It’s really hard to find a professional, who not just makes different Türkish dishes, but loves to discover the culture and past of it. I’m sending you love from Hungary! Istanbul is a beautiful city, I will go there in September for Imam nikah, can’t wait to eat there again. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note new comments are moderated before publishing and may take a few hours or days to show up. Only comments in English are accepted.

Hey, there!

I’m Vidar. For the past few years, I’ve been exploring the foods of Turkey, the Middle East and beyond from my house in Balat, Istanbul. Let me show you around!

Popular

    Hand squeezing lemon juice over nearly ready msabbaha
Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him

No e-books. Just inspiring emails.

Get delicious recipes &
fascinating stories
from
the heart of Istanbul
in my fortnightly newsletter.

Skip to Recipe

Get unique recipes & stories from Istanbul!

Vidar Bergum choosing vegetables at a greengrocer in Istanbul

Get unique recipes & stories

Emails every couple of weeks, unsubscribe any time.

By signing up you agree to the terms and privacy policy (link). Photos by Bahar Kitapcı.

Vidar Bergum smiling with red brick background

Welcome!

I'm delighted to have you on board. I've just sent you an email with a little more info – please check your inbox to make sure it's arrived.

If you can't find it, check the spam, promotions or updates folders.

Close this window and return to the post
Lots of meze dishes on a table, seen from above

Unique recipes, directly from Istanbul

I've learned from the locals, now let me teach you.

No thanks, not for me
Vidar Bergum choosing vegetables at a greengrocer in Istanbul

Get unique recipes

Emails every couple of weeks, unsubscribe any time.

By signing up you agree to the terms and privacy policy (link). Photos by Bahar Kitapcı.

Vidar Bergum smiling with red brick background

Welcome!

I'm delighted to have you on board. I've just sent you an email with a little more info – please check your inbox to make sure it's arrived.

If you can't find it, check the spam, promotions or updates folders.

Close this window and return to the post

NEWSLETTER

Get delicious recipes & inspiring stories from Istanbul.

Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

By signing up you agree to the terms & conditions and privacy policy.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him

NEWSLETTER

Get delicious recipes & inspiring stories from Istanbul.

Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

By signing up you agree to the terms & conditions and privacy policy.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

Get free recipes & stories from my kitchen in Istanbul.

No e-books or spam, just inspiring emails every fortnight or so.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

Get free recipes & stories from my kitchen in Istanbul.

No e-books or spam, just inspiring emails every fortnight or so.

By signing up you agree to the terms and privacy policy.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

Welcome!

I'm very happy to have you on board!

 

I'll send you an email with more details about what you can expect shortly.

 

/Vidar

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him
Close this window and go back to the recipe
Vidar Bergum drinking tea on front porch

Get free recipes & stories from my kitchen in Istanbul.

No e-books or spam, just inspiring emails every fortnight or so.

Vidar Bergum on the front porch of his home, drinking tea, with a street cat eating something on the street in front of him