Turkish Fire
Alicia Taylor

When I was a little girl my mum would make this sweet soup for us, and for our neighbours. She would make it in the morning and the house would be full of amazing smells. She would soak the chickpeas in one pot, and the beans in another pot. She would boil the wheat, chop the nuts, slice the apples, chop the dried apricots, and she would say, ‘Darling, we have to have not less than seven ingredients.’ So I would sit and count every ingredient to make sure she didn’t miss one. She would make a massive big pot of this sweet soup, then leave it on the stove and let it cool. She would put some into little bowls, and my sister and I would deliver them to our neighbours first. Then we would come home to our own bowls … one, two, three bowls. We would have a little bread and go back for more. Any guest who came to the house would be offered a bowl as well.

This famous sweet Turkish soup has a lot of myths attached to it. One of them is from the time when the great flood was receding. These were the only ingredients left on Noah’s Ark, so they came up with this soup. Traditionally it is prepared by women on the tenth day of the Muslim month of Muharrem. It is made for the anniversary of İmam Hüseyın, son of Ali, and grandson of the prophet Muhammed.

Every household has their own version of this soup. This is my mama’s.


Quantity Ingredient
110g dried chickpeas
100g dried white beans
110g whole wheat
345g caster sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
10 dried figs, chopped
10 dried apricots, finely chopped
60g raisins
1 apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
60g chopped hazelnuts
60g chopped walnuts


  1. In separate bowls, soak the chickpeas and beans in plenty of cold water overnight. The next day, rinse them off and cook them in separate saucepans of boiling water until soft — about 1–1½ hours for the chickpeas, and about 1 hour for the beans, depending on the variety.
  2. In a large heavy-based saucepan, bring the wheat and 1.75 litres water to the boil. Add the chickpeas, beans, sugar, spices, figs, apricots, raisins and a pinch of sea salt. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, over a low heat for 45 minutes, or until all the ingredients are well cooked, and the mixture is the consistency of a thick soup. If the mixture thickens too much, you can stir in a little more water. Remove from the heat.
  3. Layer the apple slices on top and sprinkle with the hazelnuts and walnuts. Leave in a cool part of the kitchen and let the soup cool down.
  4. Serve cool or chilled, in individual bowls.
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