Sometimes I get the urge to try something really different — but I have my limits. I’m never going to be tempted by mushroom yogurt, a spinach granola bar or sweet potato breakfast cereal. I’m not that brave.
But recently, I was daring enough to sample the Ethiopian vegan stew at the Soup Spoon Café, despite its uncommon mixture. My bravado was delightfully rewarded.
The stew features sautéed mushrooms and spinach served over a generous portion of sweet potato mash. There’s also sweet peppers, onions, snow peas and carrots in the blend.
The sautéed mixture had a hint of garlic, and the sweet potatoes had a whisper of vanilla. Although the amalgamation might seem dubious, my taste buds and senses quickly rallied to approve the curious culinary concoction.
What helps mesh the ingredients is the Soup Spoon’s tomato-berbere sauce. Thanks to Google, I have since learned that an Ethiopian berbere spice mix usually includes things like ginger, coriander, fenugreek seeds, nutmeg, paprika, cloves and dried peppers.
I found the stew to be absolutely satisfying. Preparing the sauce must have taken time and skill. Softening of sweet potatoes and sim- mering the extras surely took extra effort, since the Soup Spoon Café uses fresh and often locally sourced ingredients. The extra care shows in the quality of the finished stew.
To temper the stew’s spiciness and to add an additional layer to the multi-level delicacy, I ordered a side of Parmesan cheese. But the freshly grated cheese was not necessary, and it by no means indicated a deficiency with my meal. I saw it like taking a favorite song and adding more cowbell. You may fear the reaper, but don’t fear this exotic-sounding stew.
Soup Spoon Café 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday- Thursday; 7 a.m.-midnight Friday; 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday; closed Sunday 1419 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing (517) 316-2377 soupspooncafe.com
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