Ezo, good natured and beautiful, married badly - twice. Her life was so tragic, it became a legend.
Ezo was born in 1909 in the village of Dokuzyol in southeastern Anatolia, now Turkey. The house where Ezo lived was on an ancient caravan route.
Ezo’s family stored their water in a large jug outside the front door. When dry and dusty travelers wanted a drink, Ezo graciously served them.
Tales of Ezo’s beauty spread along the caravan route. Soon, camel drivers were stopping by Ezo’s house to see her lovely face and spend time in her company. This happy time came to an end when she was 20. Her family arranged Ezo’s marriage to a man who was in love with someone else.
After the wedding, Ezo’s husband ignored her and left her alone while he trailed after the woman he truly loved. For Ezo, who was used to being cherished, this was intolerable. After a year, she returned to her family and divorced her husband.
Ezo remained single for six years, at which time her family arranged a second marriage to a cousin who lived across the border in Syria. Though Ezo had six daughters in Syria, she remained homesick for her family and village. Adding to Ezo’s misery was a mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased.
Ezo died at 46. She was buried, at her request, on a hill looking north to the Turkish village she missed so badly. After a bureaucratic battle between Turkey and Syria,Ezo's remains were removed from her Syrian grave in 1999, and she was reburied in her home village of Dokuzyol.
Ezo’s tragic life has been popularized in Turkey through song, film, and television. Though her life was spent in hardship, Ezo became the emblem of traditional values: love, honor, pride, beauty, longing for homeland, and patience.
Cementing Ezo’s role in Turkish culture is a soup named for her: Ezo Gelin Çorbasi (The Bride Ezo’s Soup). Some say Ezo created the soup to placate her miserable mother-in-law, successfully or unsuccessfully, depending on who’s telling the story.
Others say the soup is named for Ezo because, like the soup, her example strengthens women for the many challenges of married life. In Turkey, women eat Ezo Gelin Soup right before their wedding.
Serves 4 - 6
This mildly spicy soup is quick and easy, yet packed with flavor and very filling. Savory pepper and mint oil is drizzled over the soup just before serving, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds a refreshing tang. In Turkey, Ezo Gelin Soup is sold in most kebab houses, eaten for breakfast, and used to cure hangovers. It is low in fat, full of legumes and grains, and very heart-healthy. Aside from all that, it tastes delicious. I served this with Algerian Flatbread.
1 cup red lentils
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups diced onion, 1/8” dice
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1 Tbsp. hot paprika
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup bulgur
6 – 8 cups beef or vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. dried mint
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)
Make the soup: Spread out the lentils on a tray and pick through them to remove any little stones, clumps of dirt, and chaff. Rinse and drain the lentils.
Sauté the onion, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, until it softens and starts to turn golden. Add the garlic, Aleppo pepper, and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, bulgur, and 6 cups of stock, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils and bulgur are tender and the soup has a creamy consistency.
If you prefer your soup smooth, puree it with a stick blender. If the soup is too thick, add all or some of the remaining stock. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
Make the topping: Warm the olive oil in a small pan; don’t get it too hot or it will burn the mint. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mint and Aleppo pepper.
Serve the soup with the topping drizzled over it and lemon wedges on the side.
The is my entry for Heart of the Matter: Soup hosted by Joanna's Food.