Marrakesh Minestrone with Cilantro Puree

14 Jan

I have a cookbook called The Healthy Hedonist by Myra Kornfeld that I absolutely adore.  Every recipe I’ve tried has been divine, and this one is no different.  The book has very interesting and flavorful combinations, most with an international flair. The book is based on the idea of “flexitarianism,” or eating a mostly vegetarian diet, but not eliminating meat entirely.  I’ve been eating this way for a about four years, though lately I’ve been trending more toward eliminating meat altogether.

I decided to make this particular dish because this past weekend my Foodies group (I found a group of people who love to cook as much as I do!)  had a Middle Eastern-themed extravaganza.  We each took a different dish, and I picked this Moroccan-style stew, which mixes sweet with spicy in a really amazing way.  Other featured dishes included hummus, rice with dried fruit and pistachios, garbanzo soup, tzatziki, roasted leeks and carrots, an amazing dessert made with rice and almonds, tea flavored with cardamom and cinnamon, and several others.  Yum!  I was truly amazed by the range of wonderful dishes everyone made.

This stew is very hearty and can be eaten as a meal.  The starchy vegetables in combination with the couscous and garbanzo beans along with the rich spices come together to make for a very satisfying stew for a cold night. I made a change here and did not use saffron–I tossed in some turmeric instead.  Saffron is pretty expensive and I didn’t feel like buying it on this particular day.

Ingredients

2 T olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pinch saffron threads (I used about 1 tsp of turmeric)

1 tsp ground fennel seed (I left mine whole)

1 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (I used more–about 1 tsp–because I like it spicy)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used closer to 1 tsp)

1-14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes

5 cups water

1 cup sweet potato, chopped

1 diced carrot

1 zucchini, sliced

Salt to taste

2 cups finely chopped Swiss chard or chopped spinach

1/4 cup couscous

2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 can, rinsed

Black pepper

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cilantro Puree

1 tsp whole or ground cumin

2 T olive oil

1 T lemon juice

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 garlic clove

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Toss in the onion to cook for about 7 minutes.  Then, add the garlic, saffron, fennel, coriander, red pepper flakes, ginger, and cinnamon.  Stir, and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, and crush the tomatoes a bit with the back of your spoon.  Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  (As the tomatoes cook, it would be a good time to wash the chard and chop the vegetables to use your time most efficiently).

Add the water, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini.  Cover and turn the heat to high.  Bring to a boil.  One the soup starts to boil, turn the heat down to medium low.  Add 1 tsp salt.  Cover the pot, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Next, add the couscous, chard, and garbanzo beans.  Stir.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Add the pepper and the lemon juice.  Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary.

Now, let the soup sit to cool and make the cilantro puree.  You can do this with a blender, but I used my food processor, which is much better at chopping than a blender.  Add the cilantro, cumin, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice.  Pulse until the ingredients are finely and evenly chopped.  Then, turn on the processor and pour in the olive oil through the top.  You may have to scrape the sides of the bowl if the puree doesn’t mix evenly.

Spoon some cilantro puree over the soup, and enjoy!  I’m definitely going to make this again.

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