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Bean and Lentil Maharagwe


Traditionally, this spicy coconut-based soup is made with beans. In this recipe, I combine beans and lentils to form the base. If you like to keep this recipe totally vegetarian/vegan, just use vegetable nage or vegetable stock.

I love this flavorful soup in the summer when I can roast the tomatoes right from the garden for an added level of taste and texture. This Eastern African dish not only delivers to the taste buds, but it packs a wallop of anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. You can make it a little spicier upfront, or borrow some heat from the northern neighbors and add some harissa paste as a garnish at the end.


  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ½ inch knob of fresh turmeric, peeled
  • 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seed
  • 1 tsp. whole coriander
  • 3-4 green cardamom seeds
  • 1 fresh Serrano pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-pounds black beans, soaked (may use two cans of organic beans of your choice)
  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 1-pound fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can full-fat organic coconut milk
  • 1 can unsweetened organic coconut cream
  • 1-quart stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable depending on preference)
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro, harissa paste, toasted almond slices



Preheat the oven broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the tomatoes on the sheet pan. Lightly coat with olive oil. Place under the broiler until tomatoes are lightly charred, approximately five minutes.

Place the stock in a large soup pot, crock-pot, or slow cooker. Add the thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper. Heat a small sauté pan and place the cumin, coriander, and cardamom in the pan. As soon as the spices are toasted, which means as soon as you can smell their lovely aroma, remove from the heat, and add to a food processor or mortar. Pay attention when you are heating the spices as they can quickly burn. If they do, start over otherwise the dish will turn out very bitter. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, Serrano pepper to the spice mixture and process until finely ground.

And the spice mixture, tomatoes, beans, lentils, and coconut milk and cream to your pot. Allow to simmer at least 30 minutes, but allowing to cook for about two hours will develop a deeper and richer flavor.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro, harissa paste (if you like a little more heat, and toasted almonds.

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