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Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

After keeping myself on a leash for a while I finally joined Swap-bot late last year. I already told you about some food-related swaps in my previous Weekend Cooking post. Today I want to talk about another one: the Cookbook Challenge #1, hosted by Carmen of the Gastronomery Group. Like many of us she has several under-used cookbooks and she wants to tackle them with the help of fellow swappers. She made the challenge vegan-friendly so of course I had to join — never mind that I have a pile of books of my own… ;)

For this first ‘cookalong’ Carmen chose some recipes out of Modern Moroccan by Ghillie Basan and posted them on the group blog. The idea was for us to choose one recipe, test it, document it and send the (virtual) results to our swap partners; in my case our hostess herself. So Carmen, here’s my pick!

Cinnamon-scented chickpea and lentil soup

Serves 4-5.

Ingredients

Preparing Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Don’t let the long list scare you: it’s not as much as it seems and most of these ingredients are fairly common in a foodie household. If you look at the preparations you’ll see this recipe is a breeze!

  • 1.5-2 tbsp olive oil (see my tweak among the modifications below)
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger (djahé)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric (kunjit)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 400 gr can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar (I used raw cane sugar)
  • 80 gr brown or green lentils, washed (I used Puy lentils)
  • 950 ml vegetable stock or boiling water & 2 bouillon cubes
  • 400 gr can cooked chickpeas (265 gr drained)
  • 150 gr cooked broad beans (I used 175 gr frozen peas)
  • small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt ‘n pepper to taste

Preparation

Chopping cilantro & flatleaf parsley for Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions until soft.
  2. Stir in the spices (ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron), tomatoes and sugar.
  3. Add the lentils and pour in the vegetable stock or water and stock cubes.
  4. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender (check the instructions on the package).
  5. Stir in the cooked chickpeas and beans and bring back to boil, cover again and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Mix in the fresh herbs and season to taste.

Serve hot!

Modern Moroccan Cinnamon-scented Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Mr Gnoe and me enjoyed this soup on a cold February night accompanied by (store-bought) bake-off buns and couscous salad.

Couscous Salad

The result?

I only made half of the original recipe on the Gastronomery Cookbook Challenge #1 page and that was amply sufficient for four diners. Especially served with accompaniments like ours. This soup is already plant-based (and chock-full of proteins!) so no veganizing was needed, but still the recipe got slightly tweaked.

  • I took the easy route and used a 400 grams can of chickpeas (= 265 grams drained) instead of dried beans that would have needed to be soaked overnight.
  • Dried broad beans are not commonly available over here (although it’s not impossible to get them in a city like Utrecht) so I had wanted to use frozen but forgot to add them to my grocery list. So I took 175 grams garden peas from my freezer stash instead. Together with the chickpeas that roughly summed up the 400 grams of cooked beans I needed.
  • I made vegetable stock with one bouillon cube instead of two and spiced it up with salt and pepper at the end. I’m still not sure whether I’d use two cubes anyway next time… (if there is a next time?)
  • I didn’t use olive oil for frying the onions but used leftover sunflower oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes in oil.
  • The original recipe said to fry the onions for about 15 minutes… It took me 2-3 to get them soft. ;) If you’re supposed to caramelize the onions then 10-15 minutes would be right but it just says “until soft” so I believe the time publicized to be an errata.
  • I added one celery stalk, just because it was lying around in the fridge. Not necessary at all.

Has the Jury reached its verdict?

This chickpea-lentil soup is certainly a hearty dish, but it didn’t tickle my taste buds. I’ve had bean and lentil soups before, some of which were much more special.

I couldn’t discern a specific Moroccan flavour and I don’t think using broad beans would’ve changed that. Do you? Maybe adding a spice blend like ras el hanout would be a good idea; there’s a recipe for that in the book -and on the Gastronomery blog- as well. But I also just can’t appreciate the combination of multiple legumes: lentils and chickpeas and peas. I do like vegan harira (Moroccan/Algerian chickpea-lentil soup), but this modern version is too much of a mismatch mishmash for me.

So. If you’ve had these kinds of soups before, this recipe is not very exciting. But if you haven’t – this is a good place to start! Common ingredients and little work bring a filling winter stew to the table.

Further ruminations

Blogging pal Uniflame also participated in Cookbook Challenge #1 and got me for a swap partner. She tried the Casablancan couscous with roasted summer veggies and shared her version of the recipe on She Likes Bento. In winter I regularly make oven-roasted root vegetables but I always forget to do something alike in summer. Gotta remember!

February has been a super busy month so I didn’t get around to cooking two other recipes from Modern Moroccan that I like. So there are still a vegan version of grilled sweet zucchini with spices and harissa on the menu.

Now if you feel like trying another Moroccan soup, how about this sesame soup recipe I posted before?

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Courgette fritters

This weekend two events came together: a ladies only family weekend and the Greece-themed Kookgrrls’ cookalong. Oh, and VeganMoFo of course. ;) Efficient woman I am, I combined as much as possible and chose a courgette fritters recipe from A Vegan Taste of Greece.

One of the first things I learned to cook as a vegetarian -we’re talking about 21 years ago- were Greek zucchini patties. I miss those now. So I’m on a quest to find a recipe without cheese, eggs or dairy. The recipe in this cookbook makes use of faux parmesan. That’s not ideal but it was worth a try! And yes, they were quite a success. Mr Gnoe and I made them again for dinner tonight, with the addition of a soygurt-based garlic-dill sauce. I will keep looking but for now this recipe will certainly do!

I posted it in Dutch on the Kookgrrls’ Blog, so that’s where you can find me today!

 

Amelishof organic CSA vegetables week 38, 2012

These are the veggies we got for the last week of summertime.

  • Savoy cabbage
  • Lettuce
  • Escarole (2 bunches)
  • Carrots
  • Red paprika
  • Corn cob

As we’re changing seasons today, these vegetables will be used in summer and fall menus.

Menu plan 21 – 27 September

While planning our meals I got distracted by all the yummy recipes and forgot to include the escarole, even though I had marked it urgent on my list. :\ So I’m somehow trying to squeeze it in at the last minute.

  • Freezer stash Friday: courgette soup, Fry’s chicken style burger on bread with vegetable toppings.
    Freezer Friday`
  • Saturday ~ from summer to fall: fresh tomato soup, seitan piccata with longbeans (p.174 V’con = Veganomicon) and oven-roasted sweetly spiced carrots with maple syrup (p.34 V’con).
    Fresh tomato soup
    Cooking from V'con
    Postscript: I used all ingredients but pretty much messed about with the proportions of beans and seitan – still it turned out awesome!
  • Sunday: red lentil – cauliflower curry with leftover roasted carrots for lack of parsnip (p.186 V’con), cumin spiced quick bread (p.267 La Dolce Vegan) for the Dutch vegan society forums cookalong and some extra simple veggies on the side, like braised escarole/cabbage, corn on the cob and/or escarole salad.
    Spicy Sunday
  • Mediterranean Monday: Briami (p.56 A Vegan Taste of Greece), Turkish bulgar with chickpeas (freezer stash) and lemony cucumber salad.
    Briami, Turkish rice with chickpeas, cumin spiced bread and lemony avocado salad
  • Asian Tuesday: cabbage ramen/noodles (double recipe) and teriyaki tofu with leek or (vegan) egg roll. Maybe sautéed escarole with leftover smoky tempeh marinade.
    Mie noodles with Saoy and 'shicken' from Vegetarian Butcher
  • Wednesday: vegetable roti with tofu and chickpea salad (p.82 Vegan Taste of Greece) with raw escarole.
    Greek chickpea salad
    Vegetable roti
  • Thursday: pesto pasta with Savoy cabbage (with pesto from a jar), Puy lentil salad with beet (and pine nuts, leftover smoky tempeh or bread garlic croutons instead of goat’s cheese).
    Lentil-beetroot salad with rucola and garlic croutons
    Pesto spaghetti wth Savoy and roasted paprika

I also hope to bake some lemon cupcakes, based on the recipe for  coconut-lemon Bundt cake in Veganomicon (p.256). I really don’t have a reason, except that it’ll be Nina’s first anniversary of being out of the shelter and living with us. She’s starting to believe she actually has a home! :)

Nina on te 3rd day she lived with us

Lemon cupcakes were a favourite when I still ate dairy & eggs and I haven’t dared trying a vegan recipe yet… But this cake by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero comes highly recommended! So will I find the time and courage this week?!

BTW did I tell you I’m going to be present at Terry Hope Romero’s World Vegan Eats cookbook presentation and cooking demo in Amsterdam at the end of October? Looking forward to it!

I updated last week’s menu with pictures from my meals, so have a look if you’re curious!

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Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!

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