• Ethiopian-style lentil and tomato soup. (Louise Franc)Source: Louise Franc

This not your average lentil soup – Berbere spice mix is what makes it stand out.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (9 votes)

The Berbere spice mix makes more than you need for this recipe, but is useful to have on hand as a ready-made seasoning for other dishes. Store the remainder in an airtight container in the fridge and use in your next batch of soup, or to season roast chicken, steak or vegetables. It is best used within three months.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, halved lengthways and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp Berbere spice mix (from below; see tip)
  • 400 g tinned crushed tomatoes
  • 185 g (1 cup) brown lentils, or 250 g (1 cup) red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 litres (8 cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 potato, diced
  • tbsp lemon juice


Berbere spice mix

  • 1⁄8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1⁄8 tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp hot paprika
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika


Zesty yoghurt topping

  • 90 g (⅓ cup) plain yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • ½ lemon, zested

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Combine all the Berbere spice mix ingredients in a small bowl, mixing well. Set aside in a small airtight container.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. If the vegetables begin to stick and brown before they are softened, add a tablespoon of water.

Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix and cook, stirring, for a further minute, or until fragrant.

Stir in the tomatoes, lentils and stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 30–40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Add the potato and cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Serve the soup in individual bowls, with a spoonful of the zesty yoghurt on top.

This recipe is from Low & Slow (Smith Street Books).