Warm, seasonal and tasty Pumpkin Soup
The prevalence of New World fruit and vegetables Old World cuisine in is a continual source of wonder to me.
Stop and think for a moment what Italian cooking would be like without tomatoes, Szechuan, Indian or Thai cooking without the various forms of chili peppers, and of course some much of the cooking of Northern Europe would feel empty without the ubiquitous potato. We should add to that list the pumpkin. A member of the squash family, it finds many places in the cuisine of North Africa. From the many slow cooked stews served with couscous to the wonderfully sweet and satisfying pumpkin soup. [For more pumpkin ideas check our our kugel, pie and challah]
As you try to add a bit of Jewish flair to your Thanksgiving celebration, let me urge you to chuck those poor, tired (and perhaps even huddled) matzo balls and whip a bit of this seasonal soup that was a staple of the Sephardic kitchens of Morocco, Libya and Tunisia. This soups appears in several forms in both Joan Nathan and Claudia Roden’s cookbooks and even makes an apprearance in Gourmet’s last collection of recipes published just before the magazine was shuttered.
In this recipe I added butternut squash to the mix, but feel free to experiment with what is in season and tastes good. Some recipes call for chunks of meat- if you go that route, use something tough and fatty that will braise in the soup. Beef chuck, or veal shoulder are both great choices. Stay away from turkey though- except for the legs, it really doesn’t braise well and you should really save that for the entrée.
So it’s starting to get a little chilly in Tel Aviv and the fact that I’ll be celebrating my first Thanksgiving away from home is sinking in so I figured it was necessary to make something homey. So I decided to make my absolute favorite comfort food, lentil soup.
Lentils are a legume and come in a variety of different colors. Typically my mom uses lentils of the brown variety but I decided to experiment and try out the orange lentils. As I’ve learned the brown ones are a little more hearty and will render more of a stew. The orange ones are smaller and when cooked for a while turn into a creamy soup, either way you go you’re gonna make something delicious packed with flavor (not to mention iron and protein!). For cooking, the only difference is that instead of cooking for 2-3 hours it really only needs 30-45 minutes.
Continue reading for the recipe….
Here’s what you do:
1 yellow onion
a few stalks of celery
2 small Tomatoes
1 bag lentils
First clean off the lentils running water through them until the water comes out clear. In a large pot let the sliced onion simmer in olive oil until they become translucent. Add the carrots and the celery and let them cook until they are soft. Add the tomatoes and spices and let simmer for 2-3 minutes as the flavor combine. Then add the lentils to the bottom of the pot and stir. Let the lentils stand for about 2 minutes before adding 4 cups water. Turn the heat up and bring the soup to a boil, come for 5 minutes, then cover the pot, turn down the heat, and let cook for 2-3 hours.