Ever since Phil and I have tried Ethiopian food, we have been in love. You would think it would be this food experience where you eat all these bizarre dishes that take getting accustomed to, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong; there are some unfamiliar foods like Injera (a sourdough spongey bread) or Kitfo (raw chopped beef), but really other than that, I was transported to my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchens. Comfort food at its best. Another thing that may take some getting used to is pretty much all dishes have some heat to them. You can’t be a total wimp AND eat Ethiopian. This Lentil Carrot Soup with Berbere has a little heat, but a lot of flavor!
Berbere is a spice mix that is pretty much the base in a lot of Ethiopian dishes. It has a beautiful red color due to paprika and chiles and has heat, but also lots of flavor. This spice mix includes spices like garlic and ginger that I am familiar with, and some spices that I have never used before, such as anjwan and rue. If you are a fan of garam masala, you need berbere in your life! The flavor is just as complex as garam masala. When I saw it at the farmers’ market I had to pick it up. Since we don’t eat out these days, I thought it would be nice to make a dish that reminded us of our days going to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant here in Atlanta (Desta is the name). So far, I have made this soup and used this spice mix to flavor roasted vegetables (it is very versatile). Surprising, even Isaac loved this soup. This soup is perfect for this cold weather. It’s spicy, creamy, full of flavor and filling. Everything you want a winter soup to be.
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2½ cups yellow or red split lentils
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 6 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 tbsp berbere
- 2 - 32 ounce cartons of stock, vegetable or chicken
- ¾ cup of full fat coconut milk
- kosher salt to taste
- roasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
- In a dutch oven, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, saute onions about 5-6 minutes, or until they start to soften and brown.
- Add lentils, carrots, garlic and berbere and saute until fragrant 2-3 minutes. Add stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and soup starts to thicken. Add the coconut milk and season with salt (see note) to taste.
- At this point the soup can be served chunky or if you prefer a smooth texture, use an immersion blender or Vitamix (see note) to puree. Serve hot with a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds.
- * The salt is to taste because most berbere contain some level of salt. The amount of salt may change depending on the brand or mix you buy.
- * If using a Vitamix to puree, when finished, you will need to add water to thin out the texture to a soup consistency. Add ¼ cup of water out a time until it reaches desired consistency. Pureeing it in the Vitamix makes it extremely thick. I prefer the immersion blender, this keeps it with a little texture