Spoony Sundays #1: Moroccan Stew

I’ve decided to start fresh cracked pepper’s first ever weekly series. I’m not sure how long this series will last, I’ll have to wait and see what kind of ratings it gets. I’m thinking I’ll keep it around as long as the weather stays wintry though.

And so I present to you, the first episode of Spoony* Sundays. Every Sunday I will post on soup — sippable slurpable, sweet or savory, stew-like or silky. Whether or not they turn out, they’ll be here. The winners and the losers together will parade on Sundays’ pages, and I will offer commentary on their individual merit. I’ll post on as many or as few as I’ve been able to try that week.

*spoony SPOO-nee, adjective:

1. Foolish; silly; excessively sentimental.

2. Foolishly or sentimentally in love.

Soup is easy, versatile, and the perfect leftover, with its flavours mellowing and blending with age. This week I bring you a Morroccan Stew whose name I can’t take credit for, but which I’ve made countless times. It’s always a pleaser, with its West-African inspired groundnut warmth and meaty sweet potato chunks. Its secret ingredient is the perfect protein supplement for vegetarians.

This is the kind of soup I often have all the ingredients for, chilling out in my cupboards and fridge. It’s often come through for me in times of potluck need, and it resembles a soup that’s become a bit of a joke between my hubby and I: We dined on it together years ago at a mutual friend’s, before we were married. The funny part is that it was a double date — he and his girlfriend at the time and me and mine. Boyfriend, that is.

Rockin’ Moroccan Stew

serves 4-6

2 tsp oil of your choice

1 cup chopped white onion

1.5 cups each diced celery and chopped bell pepper (green adds a nice colour, sometimes I’ll use both green and red)

3 cups cubed sweet potatoes (leave the peel on for extra nutrients)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp grated gingerroot

2 tsps each of ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander, 1 tsp of chili powder, and 1/4 tsp cayenne. (Feel free to adjust these to your taste. Some like more, some like less.)

3 cups broth

1 can (19 oz) diced tomatoes, drained

1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use low-sodium ones if I can find them)

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

3 Tbsp – 1/4 cup natural peanut butter (just the peanuts, folks, none of this sugar/salt/emulsifiers/cornstarch added junk. Please check label for Ingredients: roasted peanuts.)

chopped fresh cilantro

raisins and plain yogurt

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, green pepper, sweet potato, garlic and ginger. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes, adding the spices in the last minute or so of cooking.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients (broth through black pepper) except peanut butter and cilantro. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potato chunks are done.
  3. Ladle a cup or so of the hot broth into a bowl, and whisk in the peanut butter until well blended. Add it to the soup, and simmer all for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro, a handful of raisins, and if you want, a dollop of yogurt.

Courtesy of Crazy Plates by Janet and Greta Podleski

Nutritional Information per 1/6th: 251 calories, 5g fat, 9g protein, 45g carbs, 4.3 g fiber, 0 cholesterol annnnnnd just because I know, 5 Weight Watchers Points.

Arborio Rice Soup with Acorn Squash

serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup white onion, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2.5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (I used shittake on my second round, and they were great)

1/2 cup Arborio rice

2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (these plants will last through the winter, keep one in the kitchen!)

4 cups stock (I prefer homemade chicken broth, Better than Bouillon, or the No Chicken Broth from Pacific Organics)

1 16-oz acorn squash (about a half of a medium sized one) peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch pieces. (I cut mine in half lengthwise, sprinkled it with oil and cinnamon, and roasted it in the oven for 45 minutes at 375 to make it easier to work with — highly recommended. Alternatively, you can serve this soup in roasted acorn squash bowls, which would be very cool. Just roast the halved squash, cut side down as I noted, then turn them right-side up and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Make sure to lop off some of the pointy end so they can sit like bowls.)

1 tsp thin lemon zest strips

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add mushrooms, cook for 5 more minutes.
  2. Add rice and rosemary directly to the pan, stir until rice is coated with the oil.
  3. Add stock, the raw squash, and zest strips. (If you pre-roasted the squash, add it later.) Increase heat to high, bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 12 minutes, or until rice and squash are cooked. (If you used roasted squash, add it in the last 5 minutes of this period.)
  5. Stir in lemon juice. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

courtesy of A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchell

3 responses to “Spoony Sundays #1: Moroccan Stew

  1. Today I made Rockin’ Moroccan Stew for a friend for lunch. She tasted it with some trepidation and then had a second bowl! Do I need say more! It is a keeper.
    One of your biggest fans, Mom B

  2. I made the Moroccan stew for Becca and she loves it! Thanks!! (Notes: I upped the spices to 1 tbsp each, the peanut butter to 5 (not enough fat in 3!), and it took quite a bit longer than 20 min to cook the sweet potato. I assume my cubes were too big. It may be worth pointing out though that to check for doneness one should just sample potato cubes and cook until they are done.) Thanks again!

  3. I am the friend that sat before this bowl of soup with trepidation indeed. I am not one to be intimidated by new flavors (I have eaten frogs legs more than once and caviar too!) but this bowl of soup was pretty foreign to me. As I cautiously dug in, I was pleasantly surprised! By the time I reached the end of the bowl, yes – I was ready for more!
    As the week went on, I thought often of this delicious soup, and by the weekend was more than ready to try it on my family. It was a new taste sensation for them too, but they thoroughly enjoyed it….indeed a keeper! Thanks for sharing!

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