Most soups consumed in Ethiopian meals are actually very thick, meaty stews known as wats. These stews are eaten as the main portion to the meal and consist of a slow-cooked combination of vegetables, various types of meats, and a traditional butter known as niter kebbeh, a blend of garlic, spices, and butter. And depending on the tastes of those dining on the wat, a certain amount of a spicy, red seasoning made from ground red chiles known as berbere. This is not to say that no authentic Ethiopian soups exist; many soups, in the conventional sense, are vegetarian in nature, usually involving ingredients such as onions, beans, and lentil.

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