Corn and Bean Soup (Pakla Çorbası)

This Black Sea Region recipe is a recipe from my dad’s side of the family. My aunt invites the rest of the family over dinner (in addition to all the special occasions) when she cooks three special dishes. Number one is mantı, number two is dolma, and number three is pakla soup, which by the way draws more attendees than dolmas. This simple soup is so popular among the family members that there had been times when we fought over the second serving. The popularity derives from the limited number of times we get to have this soup in a year, and this scarcity is a direct result of a-hard-to-find ingredient: corn bulgur.

Corn bulgur although widely used especially in the Black Sea Region is rarely found elsewhere in Turkey or here in the States. Corn bulgur is parboiled crushed kernel corn made by a similar process that is used for common wheat bulgur.

When I got the recipe from my aunt years ago I asked her what to do if I cannot find corn bulgur here in the States, she suggested fresh corn kernels–it turned out fıne, but wasn’t the same soup. However, back then I didn’t know about grits. After moving to South, I was introduced to grits, cheesy grits in particular–I absolutely love it. Through explorations I came across coarse grits, which creates a very similar taste to that of corn bulgur in pakla soup, which literally means bean soup.

1 cup uncooked coarse grits (1/3 or 1/4 of a kernel coarse)
~ 1 cup dry cannellini beans or ~2 cups cooked cannellini beans or 1 can of cannellini beans
1 small onion, grated
2 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 tbsp butter
salt

1 small piece of bone-in lamb shoulder*
-Put  grits and beans if you’re not using can beans in a pot filled with water. Bring to a boil, turn it off, cover and soak overnight.
-Next day put grits and beans in a pot with lots of water (~10-12 cups) with bone-in lamb shoulder and salt. Cook on medium for an hour or until both beans and grits are soft.
-In a frying pan, heat butter and saute grated onion until soft.
-Add tomato paste cook for another minute or two.
-Add onions to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes.
*You can skip the bone-in lamb or beef; this soup is also very good without addition of meat.

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