Recipe: Red Lentil Soup with Berbere

It was under 85 degrees this morning in Austin, so I guess that calls for Fall soup? Truth be told, I make this year-round.  It's healthy, delicious, fast, and the ingredients are dirt-cheap. It makes several servings and is so good heated up the next day. You can eat it with a side of sourdough or toast diced bread for some crunchy croutons. 

This recipe has been adapted from Deborah Madison's Red Lentil Soup recipe in In My Kitchen: A collection of new and favorite vegetarian recipes. I've tweaked it a bit, adding and omitting a couple things, but I can't stress enough the importance of the lime juice, the berbere and not substituting the red lentils for a different type of lentil (a mistake I made). If you don't know what berbere is (I didn't), it's a delicious Ethiopian spice mixture that usually includes spices such as chili peppers, fenugreek seeds, cardamom, ginger, coriander, and paprika. You can make it yourself, or pick it up at Whole Foods. 


  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons berbere
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped (or less if you're not a big fan)
  • Juice of 3 limes

Start by putting the lentils in a soup pot with 2.5 quarts of water, the turmeric, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer. The lentils should get super soft, which will take about 15 minutes or more.

While the soup is doing it's thing, heat up a medium skillet on medium heat and add diced onions, cumin, 1 tablespoon of berbere and half the bunch of cilantro and stir occasionally. When the onions are soft, add them to the lentils along with the juice of two limes, more cilantro (leaving just a bit out to use on top of the soup) and another tablespoon of berbere. Stir and add more water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into bowls, add a bit of cilantro and more lime, if desired. 

If you make this, let me know what you think!