Ah yes, a classic Turkish-Ethiopian recipe. This soup is one that I've adapted over the years from a recipe that I found in and old cookbook I have: "More With Less - A Mennonite Community Cookbook." If you aren't familiar with the More With Less cookbooks (they have a couple of different versions now), they're great compilations put together by Mennonite missionaries from all over the world. The cookbooks are not vegetarian, although there are a lot of vegetarian recipes in them (since most of the rest of the world seems to know what's up). What I love about them is that they use mostly whole foods, and they are done with the idea that healthy and wholesome food should be affordable to everyone. Plus, since they're put together by missionaries you get recipes from all over the world. Yay!
So this soup is good. But then I had some extra Niter Kibbeh, an Ethiopian spiced butter that I use in my Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew Recipe, and I decided to give it a try in this soup. Even better! So the paprika, mint, and parsley are the Turkish part and were part of the original recipe. The niter kibbeh is the Ethiopian part that I threw in along with some zucchini and a little extra tomato.
2 small yellow or white onions, diced
1/4 c. Niter Kibbeh
1 heaping cup of red lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika (or whatever kind you have)
1 tsp. dried mint
1 heaping tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 bay leaf
8 c. vegetable broth
2 medium zucchinis, diced
1) Melt the niter kibbeh in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and let them saute until they're soft, about 5-7 minutes.
2) As the onions saute, measure out your spices, rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer, and dice the zucchini. Once the onions are soft add the tomato paste and stir it around in the pot to melt it. Then add the lentils and spices and toss them together with the tomato paste and onions.
3) Add the broth and the bay leaf and stir it around to make sure the tomato paste is fully dissolved. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Make sure to stir it about every 5 minutes or so because red lentils love to stick to the bottom of the pan.
4) After 20 minutes add the zucchini and let it simmer for another 10-20 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes or so, until the lentils are fully soft and the zucchini is crisp-tender.
This makes about 8 large servings and goes well with pita bread.