Saturday, March 9, 2013

Moroccan Vegetable Soup

I found this recipe in Martha Stewart Living, and knew I wanted to give it a try since I love Israeli couscous.  If you've never tried it, you should definitely pick up a box - it takes longer to cook than normal couscous, but the bigger spheres have a fantastic texture.  Here, they're combined with a super spicy broth, vegetables, and chickpeas. The original recipe called for rutabagas, and carrots, but I used beets and butternut squash in place of the rutabaga - this is a great recipe for using up any odds and ends of veggies that you have in the fridge.  Just be sure to use harder vegetables that can stand up to some cooking without getting mushy.

I didn't find harissa paste at the store, so instead I picked up a dry harissa spice mix.  It was good, but extremely spicy - definitely start with a little and work your way up, especially if you don't love crazy spicy foods. I did find that the spice mellowed quite a bit overnight - leftovers for lunch the next day were much more manageable!

Moroccan Vegetable Soup (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Serves 6

1-1/2 to 2 pounds hard vegetables, peeled and cubed (I used carrots, golden beets, and butternut squash)
Olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots
Kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1-1/2 T dry harissa spice mix (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup white wine
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-1/3 cups Israeli couscous, prepared according to package directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the vegetables and simmer 2 minutes.  Place a colander over a large bowl, and drain the veggies, reserving the cooking water.
2. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add enough oil to generously coat the bottom.  Add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots and softened and starting to brown. Season with salt.  Add the cumin and harissa, along with a bit more oil if it looks like it needs it.  Cook, stirring constantly, one minute.  Add the wine, and simmer thirty seconds.
3. Add the veggies, chickpeas, and six cups of the reserved cooking water.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes.  Season with 1-1/2 tsp of the salt, or more to taste.  Add the couscous, simmer for a minute or two to make sure everything is heated through, and then serve.

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