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Mains, Quick and Easy

Red lentil soup with berbere

Red lentil soup with berbere
Erin Scott

Vegetable cooking has come an awfully long way since Deborah Madison started cooking vegetarian food, which the celebrated cookbook author circumspectly notes in the introduction to her 14th cookbook, out next month from Ten Speed Press. A veteran not just ... Read more

Total time: 50 minutes, plus cooling time | Serves 8 to 12

Berbere

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 6 cardamom pods, husks discarded
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ground New Mexico chile powder, more if desired
  • 3 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika, sweet or hot
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Step 1In a dry skillet heated over medium heat, combine the coriander, fenugreek, peppercorns, allspice, cardamom and cloves. Toast until fragrant, then turn the seeds out onto a place to cool for several minutes. Grind the toasted spices to a powder, then place in a bowl and whisk in the chile powder, paprika, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon. Store in a tightly covered jar in a cool place.

Red lentil soup

  • 2 cups split red lentils, picked over and rinsed several times
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, divided
  • Sea salt
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons prepared Berbere, divided
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, stems finely sliced and leaves chopped, divided
  • Juice of 2 to 3 limes, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Step 1In a heavy soup pot, combine the lentils with 2 ½ quarts water, the turmeric, 2 tablespoons ghee and 2 ½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer until the lentils are soft and just short of falling apart, about 15 minutes. If you prefer a smoother soup, puree the lentils.

Step 2While the soup is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the last bit of ghee. When it’s hot, add the onion with the cumin, mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon berbere and cilantro stems, stirring occasionally. When the onions are softened, add them to the lentils along with the chopped cilantro leaves, along with the juice from 2 limes. Taste and add additional juice, if desired, to bring up the flavors. The soup should be a tad sour.

Step 3At this point, if the soup seems too thick, add extra water, stock, coconut cream or coconut milk. Mix the remaining teaspoon of berbere with the olive oil and drizzle it over the surface of each bowl.

Note: Adapted from a recipe by Deborah Madison in her cookbook, “In my Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes.”

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