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Moroccan Chickpea Soup with Couscous

13 Dec

moroccan-chickpea-soup-from-a-cedar-spoonIt had been snowing all day, and the snow seemed almost a foot high  when the hostess of our annual book club potluck dinner called it off. I had just put together a spinach and cabbage salad to bring. What was I going to do with all that? So I put out a call to the other book club members inviting over anyone willing to brave the roads. My friend Char, who was wondering what to do with the huge kugel she had just baked, answered the call.

Char also brought his delicious soup, which came from a blog called A Cedar Spoon (which is where I got the picture too — much nicer than the one I took!). The couscous makes it thick so it’s almost like a stew. It’s perfectly spiced and just the right thing for a snowy winter day. We loved it, and I hope you do too!

Ingredients:

½ cup couscous
3 Tbs. olive oil
½ sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp. cumin
tsp. paprika
½  tsp. red pepper {cayenne pepper}
¼  tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth {you could use chicken broth}
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup milk, half & half  or unsweetened soymilk
Chopped fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, extra chickpeas and/or lemon wedges for garnish

Directions:

Cook the couscous according to the package directions.

While the couscous cooks heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots and celery and a dash of salt and continue to sauté until the vegetables become soft. Add the spices and continue to sauté for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth and chickpeas and simmer on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the milk or soymilk and stir well. Simmer for 2 more minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Put half the soup into a large mixing bowl and puree using an immersion blender or a blender. Return the pureed soup back into the soup pot and mix well.

Divide the couscous into soup bowls and ladle the soup on top. Garnish with {fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper, lemon wedges and/or extra chickpeas.

Serves 8 to 10

 

Bean and spinach soup

31 Oct

bean-and-spinach-soupA nice soup for cool fall days.

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz.) white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Salt and white pepper to taste
1 package (10 oz.) fresh spinach, chopped, or frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, combine the black beans, red pepper parsley and balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Remove the soup from the heat and cool until it is very warm. Puree in food processor or blender (or with immersion blender) and return to the pot. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in the spinach  and bring to a boil.

Divide the black bean mixture among 6 bowls and ladle the soup over the mixture.

Serves 6

 

Coconut Curry Lentil Soup

17 Nov

lentil soup curry coconutHere’s another nice lentil soup recipe. I clipped it from the Detroit Free Press, which said they got it from Whole Foods. The coconut milk gives it a creamy consistency and just a hint of coconut flavor.

Don’t make the mistake I did and use ground red or cayenne pepper instead of chile pepper flakes — or if you do, use half as much. I like spice, and so my pot of soup was fine with a half-teaspoon of ground cayenne, but I wondered why the recipe said “or more to taste” when it was so spicy. Then I realized my error!

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. coconut or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. curry powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
1½ cups red lentils, rinsed and sorted
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 handfuls chopped spinach, kale, chard or other leafy green
Chopped cilantro, green onion and/or vegan sour cream for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a stockpot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger a few minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add the tomato paste, curry powder and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, diced tomatoes and lentils.

Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes, until lentils are very tender.

Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in the spinach or other green and garnish with cilantro, green onions and/or sour cream.

Serves 8 to 10

 

Gazpacho

1 Sep

GazpachoIt’s the perfect season for gazpacho! Fresh tomatoes and cucumbers abound, and the heat makes it a good time for a cold soup.

I have a former neighbor, Rob Musial, to thank for this recipe. In the late 1970s, we lived in Detroit’s Palmer Park apartment community, and the citizens’ council published a cookbook, What’s Cooking in Palmer Park. Rob contributed this gazpacho recipe. Because the Ponchartrain Wine Cellar was a classy Detroit restaurant at the time, and because Ponchartrain Drive was a main street in Palmer Park, he called it Ponchartrain Drive Wine Cellars Gazpacho Soup.

I flip to the recipe so often, that page has come loose from the book’s plastic spiral binding.

I usually cut the tomato, cucumber, celery and scallion into large chunks and pulse them a few times in the food processor to chop finely. Don’t puree — you want to keep some crunchy bits.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 fat cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes (or 3 medium ones), peeled and well chopped
1 large regular cucumber or 1 small English cucumber, peeled, seeded and well chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 dash of Tabasco sauce (or a few more if you like a little more spice)
3 Tbs. vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 cup chopped scallions
2 celery sticks, finely chopped (optional)
5 cups tomato juice
croutons for garnish (optional)
sour cream for garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a soup pot, saute the onion in the oil until they are tender.
Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat off.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.
Add the tomatoes, cucumber and all the remaining ingredients except croutons and stir well. If using a food processor, cut the vegetables into large chunks and pulse until the soup has a chunky consistency, then add the spices.
Refrigerate for several hours. Serve chilled, garnished with croutons and/or sour cream if desired.

Turnip and Leek Soup

28 Jul

Turnip and leek soupMy husband got it in his head to plant turnips this year. They all disappeared except one, which became a monster. I kid you not, it weighed about 4 pounds when we finally dug it up last week.

What to do with a huge amount of turnip? Turnips are not in my cooking vocabulary. I didn’t grow up with turnips. My mother and grandmothers never served turnips. My cookbooks don’t have many recipes for turnips. I think the only time I’ve eaten turnips, other than as a minor ingredient in a soup, was in Scotland, where we enjoyed them mashed up with potatoes — “neeps and tatties.”

Luckily, my friend Jan served this wonderful soup a couple of months ago when she hosted our regular canasta game, and I took the recipe. I had to buy the leeks, but I had plenty of kale in my garden too!

This is a rather time-intensive recipe, because there are a lot of veggies that need washing and/or peeling and chopping, and then you have to prepare the walnuts and kale while the soup is cooking. But the end result is delicious, and as you can see, fancy enough to serve at a meal where you want to impress. The contrast between the silky-smooth pureed soup and the crunchy roasted walnuts is intriguing.

I bought a bunch of three large leeks and didn’t even bother to weigh them; I wouldn’t worry too much about having exactly a half-pound.

I didn’t have walnut oil so I used olive oil to mix with the kale. Walnut oil would probably add some flavor, but you don’t need to reject this recipe if you don’t have it.

You can keep the pureed soup in the refrigerator for a day or two before serving. Whisk the soup before you reheat it. (And when I made it, I didn’t bother to strain the soup because there didn’t seem to be any fibrous bits of turnip lurking in it — and it was fine!)

Ingredients:

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. leeks (4 medium), white and light green part only, cleaned and sliced
1 lb.turnips, peeled and cut in wedges or diced
1/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced, or 1/4 cup medium-grain rice
6 cups water or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 oz. curly kale, stemmed and washed
1 Tbs. walnut oil
1/3 cup (1-1/2 oz.) toasted walnuts, chopped (toast in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes, till fragrant; take care that they don’t get too brown)

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes.

Add the leeks and continue to cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic smells fragrant, 30 seconds to one minute.

Add turnips, potatoes or rice, water or stock, bay leaf and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. The turnips should be very tender. Remove the bay leaf.

While the soup is simmering, blanch the kale in boiling, salted water until tender, 1-1/2 to mines, or steam for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, drain and squeeze out excess water. Slice the kale into thin slivers and toss with the walnut oil.

Using an immersion blender, or in batches in a regular blender, puree the soup. Strain the soup to remove any fibers from the turnip and return to the pot. Heat through, stirring, and season to taste with salt and  pepper.

Ladle into bowls and top each serving with a spoonful of greens and a sprinkling of walnuts.

Serves 4 to 6

Mediterranean-style Roasted Cauliflower Soup

3 Feb

cauliflower soupHere’s another nice recipe from the folks at MediterrAsian blog, which I modified just slightly. It’s perfect for this time of year!

The first time I made this soup, I didn’t even add the Parmesan cheese to serve and it was delicious. Roasting the cauliflower and potato first makes a big difference! I also didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried — just sprinkled a little on top for color. I didn’t add the final tablespoon of olive oil at the end, but I kept it in the recipe.

Ingredients:

4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 whole cauliflower cut into florets
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. dried rosemary
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the cauliflower and potato in a baking dish, toss with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and roast for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

During the final 5 minutes of the roasting, heat 1 Tbs. of oil in a large pot over medium-low heat and cook the garlic and rosemary for 2 minutes.

Add the salt, pepper and stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the roast cauliflower and potato and simmer for 2 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth, or use an immersion blender to blend in the pot.

Return the soup to the pot to reheat (or put the pot back on the flame) and stir in the reserved tablespoon of olive oil.

Serve topped with a small amount of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.

Serves 4 to 6