Saturday, June 16, 2012

Moroccan vegetable soup

I had written this a while ago and it seems like an opportune time to post this right now since it's Winter here and it's a great time for soup. I hope you enjoy this.

I love soup and lately, I've been doing a lot of soups for starters when I do my dinner parties because it's easy to make, I can make it ahead and they are delicious, plus if I serve a small amount, not too filling.

The good thing about soups is they can also make a meal in itself, if that's what you want out of it and most of the soups that I make tend to be the thick and creamy sort (without the cream since I'm lactose intolerant) and very filling if consumed in significant quantities.

This soup I made for a dinner party some time back. I think it was one where I had the boys over for dinner and the menu looked something like this:

Starter - Moroccan vegetable soup.

Main - Roasted pork belly (another favorite), sautéed garlic vegetables and truffle mashed potatoes.

Dessert - White chocolate cake with homemade ice cream. I made the ice cream, one of the boys brought the dessert. I've yet to get into baking and to be honest, it's not something that I'm excited about doing. It's too exact a science for me.

I think I've talked about all the main dishes before and even got some recipes put together for them from previous posts, so today it's all about the soup.

Here's the RECIPE for the Moroccan vegetable soup:

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 225g carrots, chopped (about 3 medium carrots)
  • 225g parsnips, chopped
  • 225g pumpkin, chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for the garnish:
  • 1 ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley and coriander, mixed
  • Good pinch of paprika

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large pan and fry the onion for about 3 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and parsnips, stir well, cover and cook over a gentle heat for a further 5 minutes
  • Cut the pumpkin into chunks, discarding the skin and pith, and stir into pan. Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock and seasoning and slowly bring to boil. Cover and simmer for 35 – 40 minutes until vegetables are tender
  • Allow the soup to cool slightly and then pour in to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth, adding a little extra water if the soup seems too thick. Pour back into a clean pan and reheat gently
  • To make garnish, heat the oil in a small pan, fry the garlic and herbs for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the paprika and stir well
  • Adjust the seasoning of the soup and stir in lemon juice to taste. Pour into bowls and spoon a little of the prepared garnish on top, which would then be swirled carefully into the soup

This recipe only makes 4 (or so it said) and I was making soup for 6, so I increased the amount of ingredients by an extra 50% or so. The amounts are not exact, since I'm pretty relaxed about these things, so long as it eventually tastes good and I am really bad at math.

Here's what I did different (besides increasing quantities):
  • I'm never exact with olive oil, I just use a bunch which is whatever looks about right in the pot / pan, depending on what I'm cooking and if it's not enough, I add more
  • I did not buy enough parsnips (back to the bad at math thing) so I was on the original numbers of parsnips for the recipe
  • I had a ton of pumpkin and decided to use it all up, so had a bit more pumpkin
  • Fortunately for me, the carrots did end up going in with the correct quantity
  • I used chicken stock because I think chicken stock gives the soup a better depth of flavor. I almost always do this, by the way, so if you ever see me making soup, chicken stock is a given
  • I put some lemon juice in but after two tablespoons of lemon juice and it still not tasting very lemony, I decided that was enough. There was probably enough in it to give it a boost in flavor without dominating. I still wanted the vegetable flavors to come through
  • I did not add pepper to the soup because I wanted to keep the sweetness of the vegetables and didn't want the heat from the pepper coming through
  • For the garnish, I used quite a bit more garlic than the recipe said but again that's just me 'cos I like garlic
  • I also not only mixed paprika into the garnish mix but I also sprinkled some extra on to the soup to give it some contrasting colors - the orange of the soup, the red of the paprika and the green from the garnish - made it very pretty!

The soup tasted lovely. There was a hint of spice from the garnish that added a delightful flavor to it.

Are you a seasonal soup person or can you have soup year round? Is soup something that is warm and comforting for the winter time or is it something that you will eat whenever you are looking for something that's tasty and simple?

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  1. How long did this take to make? Looks delicious!

    1. It takes about a little over an hour to make, but the amount of time to spend in the kitchen with it is about 20 minutes. The rest of the time, it's just simmering on the stove.