Earthy lentils are flavored with berbere - a warm, spicy Ethiopian seasoning blend - and topped with tangy greek yogurt in this Ethiopian-spiced lentil soup.
Kind of random question: What are your thoughts on celebrity autobiographies?
I tend to really like them...most of the time it ends up giving me more of an appreciation for the person after I get a deeper understanding of their journey to get where they are now.
I recently read Marcus Samuelsson's autobiography, Yes, Chef, and I was totally enthralled with how he described the Ethiopian spice blend berbere (pronounced BEAR-beret, like a bear in a beret!). I love Ethiopian food so I've definitely had the spice blend before, but I hadn't yet cooked with it myself. And I had a jar sitting in my spice drawer!
I found this berbere seasoning a few months ago at one of the grocery stores I shop at often. I bought it even though I didn't really have a plan or recipe in mind because it was the first time I had seen it in a store and I was excited about it!
Despite having it in my spice drawer for a while I had yet to actually use it. Marcus Samuelsson's vivid descriptions of the spices and how integral it is in Ethiopian cooking was just the push I needed to get it out and cook with it.
I had also recently tried a lentil soup recipe that I thought was pretty good, but definitely could have benefitted from a little more spice. Enter: berbere. Boom.
Adding the spice blend (plus a few more tweaks) really took it to the next level of delicious.
Berbere & lentils are a natural pairing in this Ethiopian-spiced lentil soup. Many Ethiopian dishes are a thick stew and lentils are a very common ingredient. The berbere seasoning blend is so fragrant & warm and adds such an awesome punch of spice and flavor.
The dollop of greek yogurt is a real game changer too. It adds a little bit of creamy, tangy richness and is a great cooling counterpart to the spiciness of the soup. And the little hit of fresh lemon juice adds just the right brightness & acidity.
This soup comes together pretty quickly, and is a great healthy meal full of protein and fiber. Serve it with some naan or perfect pillowy pita bread for dipping, or just scoop it up with a spoon.
Yummy noises await you!
Earthy lentils are flavored with berbere - a warm, spicy Ethiopian seasoning blend - and topped with tangy greek yogurt in this spicy, satisfying soup.
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 1/2 Tbsp berbere*
- 4 cups (32 oz) vegetable broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 fresh jalapeño, finely diced (remove ribs & seeds for less heat)
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 tsp Kosher salt, more or less to taste
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- about 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish
- naan or pita bread, for serving (if desired, skip to keep it gluten free)
In a large pot, heat oil over medium high. Add onion and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and berbere and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetable broth, water, lentils, tomatoes, jalapeño, ginger and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 25-30 min.
Puree part of the soup to your desired consistency: Use an immersion blender (about 5 pulses) OR carefully ladle some of the soup (about 1-2 cups) into a blender, take out the plastic insert in the cap and cover it with a towel, blend, and return it to the soup pot. I like the base to be creamy but still keep a good amount of whole lentils. Add lemon juice and more salt to taste (I added 1/2 tsp more but the amount needed could vary depending on the saltiness level of your broth/berbere).
Ladle soup into serving bowls and top with a dollop of greek yogurt & a sprinkle of parsley/cilantro. Enjoy!
*Berbere is a traditional Ethiopian spice blend made primarily of chiles, garlic, coriander, fenugreek as well as a few warm spices like cinnamon and cloves. I use Frontier Co-op Organic Berbere Seasoning, which I found at my grocery store and is also available on Amazon. FYI - Berbere can vary in spice level, so keep that in mind if you're sensitive to spicy foods.
Use regular brown lentils for this recipe. Sometimes they actually look a little more green than brown, but they are generally very readily available and just labeled "lentils."
Adapted from Food Network's Spicy Lentil Soup