Shorba Addis (Ethiopian Lentil Soup)

This is that time of year when people start giving more focused thought to eating a better diet. Unfortunately, it is also the season we most crave hearty comfort foods, which are not always so diet friendly. This curried tomato lentil soup is ideal because it is healthful and hearty.

The recipe is from Dr. Neal Barnard’s 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart and is featured on days one and two of the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart.

One unusual ingredient you need for this recipe is fenugreek. It gives a very distinctive taste to the dish and is well worth seeking out. Be careful how much you add, though, because this spice has a bitter edge.

Shorba Addis (Ethiopian Curried Tomato Lentil Soup)
Adapted from recipe by Jason Wyrick from Dr. Barnard’s  21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart as featured on forksoverknives.  It is featured on the menu for days one and two of the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. I made the following substitutions: dried ginger instead of fresh, ground fenugreek instead of seeds, water instead of broth. I also added in a little olive oil for browning the vegetables, but  I have also tried the recipe without the olive oil (dump everything else in the pot and simmer until done) and the flavor is almost the same. I have made this without the orzo and with twice the amount of lentils and it is good that way, too.One more piece of advice: go with the berbere spice instead of using a curry powder. Making your own berbere spice mix might seem like a bother, but I think it has completely different flavor than the usual curry powder and it is worth the extra trouble.

1 Tbl. olive oil (optional, see alternate preparation method)
1 onion, chopped fine
2  carrots, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced)
2 tablespoona berbere spice mix (you can substitute curry powder or you can try making your own spice mix–see below)
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek (or 2 tsp. fenugreek seeds)
5 cups water
1/2 cup tomato paste (6 ounce can)
1/2 cup brown or green lentils
2  potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup orzo, preferably whole wheat (or, instead,  you can double the amount of lentils listed above)
salt, to taste

In a Dutch oven, over medium high heat, saute the onion and garlic in oil until tender and starting to brown. add the carrot and spices and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the water and stir to combine the tomato paste with the water. Add the lentils. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook, covered, on low for 20 minutes. Add the potato and orzo (if using) and cook the soup, covered, for another 10 minutes, or until the potato is tender. Adjust seasoning with salt to taste.

Alternate oil-free preparation method: For easier and oil-free prep, skip the step where you saute the onion and garlic. Instead, leave out the olive oil, put everything else (except the orzo) into a pot and simmer until the lentils and potato are tender. If adding the orzo, add it after the soup has cooked for 20 minutes and then cook an additional 10 minutes.

You might need to add extra water to the soup if it gets too thick. Makes four generous servings.

Berbere Spice
Adapted from I am not sure how to pronounce Berbere. Some online sources say is it pronounced bur-bur or bear-bear and some say it is bear-bear-ee or bear-BEAR-ee or bear-bur-ay. Marcus Samuelsson says it is pronounced bur-bur, and he is Ethiopian, so I guess I would go with that pronunciation. This will make more spice than you need for the recipe, but this is a nice spice mix to have and you will find other uses for it.

2 teaspoons powdered cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
5 teaspoons red pepper flakes (I left this out because I like my food mild and prefer to add spiciness to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

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2 Responses to “Shorba Addis (Ethiopian Lentil Soup)”

  1. Couldn't be parve Says:

    This sounds delicious. My 6 yr old adores Ethiopian food so I will make this soon for sure. (Especially since I happen to have fenugreek leftover from a yeminite oxtail soup I made)

  2. Sarah Rivka Schechter Says:

    Mazel tov! Your post made it into my edition of a blog carnival:

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