This flavorful soup is made with a spice blend called berbere and the spiced, clarified butter known as Nitter Kibbeh ( instructutions below ). Berbere spice blend can be made easily from scratch, or purchased in most spice stores. The unique and rich flavor makes this dish well worth the minimal effort to make.
Recipe for Nitter Kibbeh ( makes 1 and a half cups )
• 2 pounds of yellow onions, peeled and diced small
• 9 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
• 1/2 tablespoon of tumeric
• 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom
• 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
• 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg
Place the onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Add water while stirring frequently to avoid the onions from sticking to the pan. Cook them for about 20 minutes, or until the onions are browned. Add the garlic, ginger, tumeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to pick up the bits of pieces so that they can be incorporated in the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree, while adding water as needed to make a smooth and creamy consistency. This will keep, refrigerated, for up to 7 days.
Berber Spice Blend
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
• 1 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well to blend. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe for the Ethiopian Lentil Soup
• 1/4 cup Nitter Kibbeh
• 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
• 2 to 3 tablespoon Berbere Spice Blend
• 2 large tomatoes, diced
• 1 1/2 cups red lentils (about 1/2 pound), rinsed
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Warm the Nitter Kibbeh, garlic, and berbere spice in a median saucepan over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have started to breakdown. Add the lentils and 5 cups of water and bring the pan to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the lentils are tender, should be about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.