Recipe: Shorba (Ethiopian soup)

You get two-for-one today!

There is an Ethiopian restaurant in town that The Big Man and I have long been fans of. They have soup called shorba that we both love. We have said for a long time that we need to find a recipe. We have tried a couple and they weren’t any good. Finally, we found a recipe that makes something pretty close to what we have when we’re out. But it called for berbere, an Ethiopian spice. That is not readily available, so we made that as well from a recipe on Epicurious. I didn’t note where the shorba recipe is from. If you recognize it, let me know — I’d like to attribute it.

Berbere (Ethiopian Spice Mix)

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Finely grind fenugreek seeds in an electric coffee/spice grinder. Stir together with remaining ingredients until combined well.

Berbere keeps in an airtight container, chilled, 3 months.

We found the fenugreek and the ground dried New Mexico chiles at Sprouts, a local health food store.


  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp berbere or curry powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup brown or green lentils
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, diced
  • ¼ cup whole wheat orzo pasta

Over medium-high heat, saute the onion until it is brown. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the carrot, ginger, garlic, curry powder, and fenugreek, sauteing them for about 1 minute.

Add the veggie broth and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is thoroughly combined with the broth. Bring the soup to a simmer. Stir in the lentils and potato. Once the soup comes back to a simmer, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.

Cook the soup for 35 minutes.

Add the orzo; cook according to package directions.

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