Sunday, 21 October 2012

Moroccan soup

This is one of my all time favourite soups. And we are definitely back in high soup season. I mean, who wants soup in the summer? But when the evenings are getting chilly and it's dark outside, there is nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm you up after crawling around in the mud for bootcamp, or whatever it is you happen to do out there in the dark and rain. I find soups great when trying to lose weight, as you can have a big bowl and still only have a reasonable amount of calories. It also makes your meal stretch out as you sit there and spoon all that broth. You have time to get that feeling of being sated and not go back for seconds. Although, I pre-define all my portion sizes while cooking, so there is no seconds. Otherwise I would eat a whole pot if this soup in one sitting. As you have probably figured, I'm trying to lose weight pretty much all the time, so there are a lot of soups at the InvisiblePinkHouse. How come it's such a struggle to go down even a few pounds, but it's easy to put on at least double that in just a few weeks of sloppy eating? I think it definitely defines the laws of thermodynamics Soups are also quick to throw together and can be left to cook while doing other things, so perfect to get going after coming home from the gym and left to slowly cook while taking a shower and getting into my jammies.

I got this recipe from my colleague, and have slightly adapted it and it has become one of my favourite soups. I usually make it fully vegetarian as in the recipe below, but sometimes add in stir fried chicken if I want to make it richer. The soup freezes well, I like to pack it into portion sized servings, move it to the fridge the night before I eat it (or take it out in the morning and let it thaw in room temperature until lunchtime). The flavours just get fuller when you heat it a second time.

Moroccan soup (serves 4):
2 onions
2 carrots
3 stalks of celery
2 cloves garlic
a piece of fresh ginger root
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp harissa paste
1 tbsp ground cumin
400 g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 vegetable stock cube
1 can chickpeas (400g)
20 g quinoa (or couscous)

fresh coriander and lemon to serve

One serving contains 210 kcal (6.9 g fat, 29 g carbs and 7.8 g protein).

The howto:
Finely chop onions, garlic and ginger, slice carrots and celery. Fry in oil for about five minutes, add the harissa paste and ground cumin and fry for another few minutes. Add tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, tomato puree and stock cube along with about 500ml water. Let cook for half an hour, add quinoa and let cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the quinoa is done. If you like more of a stew consistency than a soup, just add more quinoa. Serve with a wedge of lemon and finely chopped fresh coriander. 

The verdict:
This is a really warming and spicy soup. I love to have it with some rye bread. Finland meets Morocco. It's funny, this is the soup that has made me like celery. I think I had never bought celery before making this soup, as I really didn't like the taste of it. But then again, the only time I had really paid attention to it was when it was served to me raw. And I still don't like the taste of raw celery, I'm pretty certain we are not meant to eat it raw. But in soups and stews, it has become on of my favourites. The flavour gets nice and mellow when it's cooked and it looses all of that horrible bitterness that makes it so unappealing when raw. Now celery is one of those things I always try to keep in my fridge, in fact right now I have two giant packs of celery in the fridge, waiting to be chopped into whatever soup or stew I'm making next. Basically this soup has everything I like, carrots, onions, tomatoes and chickpeas. Oh how I love chickpeas, sometimes I eat them straight out of the can, that's how much I love them. And I had never had Harissa before trying this soup. I like it because it gives the soup a very warm and spicy taste without being too hot. I have a very delicate mouth and I don't like anything hot like chillies because they just hurt my mouth. But Harissa (in controlled quantities) gives a sweeter kind of hotness, which I absolutely love.

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