Monday, July 18, 2011

Ethiopian inspired soup

The other night I felt like making soup which is not unusual as I am a huge lover of soup and normally make a least one pot a week over the colder months. The problem on this occasion was that my weekly shopping was due the next day which meant there wasn't a lot of choice in my fresh produce department. I wasn't willing to venture out into the cold night so I tossed around a few ideas and decided to invent an Ethiopian flavoured soup.

It was a great idea and I was strutting around the kitchen absolutely convinced that I would be able to transform 3/4 of a cauliflower, some carrots, pumpkin and red lentils into a creamy, delicious and spicy Ethiopian flavoured soup. I had made a fresh batch of the berbere spice mix recently (see below photo) but had run out of the spiced clarified butter, niter kibbeh which needs to be prepared a day in advance. Never mind, I had a plan.

The process of the soup was started in the common way that has been standard throughout the Ethiopian stews I have made. The onions are usually dry-fried until soft, then the nitter kibbeh is added along with garlic, ginger, berbere and any other spices. After my shallots were soft, I decided to fry some of the whole spices that are normally infused in niter kibbeh until they became fragrant and then add dairy-free margarine with the garlic, ginger and berbere. 

The smells emanating through the kitchen were mouth-watering and made me want to sit down and have a bowl even though I had eaten dinner not too long ago. The following morning I looked up the Karen Martini pita bread recipe which I posted a while back and made a batch to have with the soup. Last time I didn't have any semolina and used polenta which worked but this time I used semolina and the pita bread was so much lighter. It's such an easy recipe to make and was the perfect partner for mopping up this delicious soup. The man, son and I all loved our lunch and I will definitely be making this soup again.  

Since my posting series about Ethiopian food, I have gone back and tried some other Ethiopian recipes. A split pea stew from VeganDad's blog was lovely and I trialled an injera bread recipe using red sorghum flour (as I haven't been able to locate the authentic ingredient, tef flour). I had planned to post about the injera and even got half-way through writing it up before other things took higher priority and time moved on...

This soup is being submitted to the No Croutons Required event which is being hosted by Lisa this month and the theme is chillies.

Ethiopian inspired soup

4 shallots, diced
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
4 cardamon pods
1/4 cup dairy-free margarine
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 heaped teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon berbere
1 cup red lentils
6-8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
400ml tomato passata or you could use a 400g tin of tomatoes
2 medium carrots, diced
400g pumpkin, diced
3/4 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
salt and pepper, to taste

Dry-fry the shallots in a large pot over low-medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamon pods and cook, stirring for a minute. Melt in the dairy-free margarine and then add the garlic, ginger and berbere. When the garlic and ginger begins to brown, stir through the red lentils so they are coated with the spices then add 6 cups of water and a teaspoon of salt. 

Bring to the boil, adding the carrots, pumpkin and cauliflower (or other vegetables of your choice) as you chop them, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamon pods, then process the soup in batches in a blender and return to the pot. Add more water if a thinner soup is desired. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. 


  1. Purely amazing; I love this! Such a perfect soup. Thank you for sharing!

  2. I think this post may be just the motivation I require to get back into making soup for the week on the weekend :) I love having weekday lunches sorted, and soup in the cooler months is one of my favourite lunch options. Sadly, some Sundays just slip by without me getting to the task...

    This recipe also looks wonderful in and of itself. I love the spice additions.

  3. great soup - really love the sound of the pita because I have some semolina to use up - I confess I shudder a little at all the chillis in your frypan but I am sure your kitchen smelled a treat

  4. Thanks Amie. I'm glad you like the recipe, I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

    Thanks Kari, soup is the best winter lunchtime option IMO. I really miss soup over the warmer months which is why I make as much as I can when it's cold. :D

    Thanks Johanna, the pita is a great recipe and I have since made a wholemeal version. It may look like a lot of chillis although only a small portion of the overall spice mix went into the soup. The soup was pleasantly spiced and the chilli didn't dominate.

  5. I want this soup now! I love Ethiopian food and I love soup (I could eat it every day). Btw, I couldn't find teff flour locally, either, so I ordered it from Amazon (I love their subscribe and save feature). Is that option available to you?

  6. Thanks Christina, I hunted for teff flour for ages and wasn't able to find it anywhere. I was gobsmacked when my local health food store started stocking it a couple of months ago. I haven't ordered any food items from Amazon (only books) as customs regulations about bringing food into Australia are quite strict and I didn't want to chance it. Hope you enjoy your teff flour! :D