I’ve been preparing three meals a day for 43 years and counting. There were days that I wished someone would tell me what they felt like for supper, or suggest a change in menu. Inspiration is what we all need. Some of the best meals were simple ones like a fresh, crispy French loaf with a selection of cheeses, jams and preserves or sliced salami and tomato. Another one was a free for all Pot luck affair; each person could choose what they felt like from the fridge, we’d lay it all out on the table and have a feast.
I mentioned a Moroccan Soup in my previous blog when Butch and I enjoyed our picnic in the snow. (see my blog http://maricha.co.za/blogs/post/the-week-according-to-weatherman-pete ) I had so many requests for the recipe. Here it is.
MOROCCAN SOUP WITH SPICY BEEF MEATBALLS
To make a vegetarian soup without the meatballs, use vegetable stock instead of beef stock.
45ml Olive Oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 leeks, sliced (optional)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 red chillies, chopped, deseed and devein for a milder burn
10ml grated fresh ginger
5ml turmeric (if you can find fresh turmeric, that’s always better)
(I buy the prepared ginger, garlic and chilli we have in most grocery stores and use those, they’re so convenient)
15ml smoked paprika
5ml chilly flakes
10ml ground cumin
10ml curry powder
1 large tin whole tomatoes, crushed
2 medium potatoes, peeled and grated
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
4 grated carrots
500ml butternut, cubed
4 celery sticks, sliced
1 bunch of chopped parsley (keep a few sprigs for garnishing)
1 large handful Cilantro chopped
1.5 litres beef stock (use generous scoops of powdered stock powder and make according to instructions, e.g. 5ml of stock powder for every 250ml water. My teaspoons are large, old fashioned ones, and I do heap them!)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tin chickpeas (soak chickpeas overnight if you’re using dried)
1 cup lentils
Or 1 cup black-eyed beans (I used these) (soak overnight if you’re using dried beans)
Anglicise all this with a good splash of Worcestershire sauce!
2 lemons quartered
Chopped spinach or kale
Melt the butter, add the oil, add the chopped onions, sauté until the onions have caramelised. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger, sauté.
Add the spices, stir fry for a minute to release the oils and heighten the flavours
Add all the vegetables. Stir fry once more.
Add the beef stock, Worcester sauce and lemons
Add the chickpeas and beans
Simmer over low heat until the vegetables, beans and chickpeas have softened. I add the fresh herbs near the end; I believe they lose their flavour when they’re cooked for too long. The kitchen smells tremendous, but that’s not the aim!
I remove the lemons before serving my soup, slice them and return them to the pot, but you can remove them.
You will note I do not add salt to my soup; we don’t use much salt, adjust the salt according to your taste buds.
CONFESSION: I have become lazy, and when it’s only Butch and me, I will buy ready-made ingredients, e.g. these meatballs are the spicy ones sold at Woolworths. They’re convenient and delicious)
500g lean beef mince (traditionally lamb would be used)
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 deveined chillis very finely sliced
30ml chopped chives (optional)
15ml dried mint (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
10ml ground coriander
10ml ground cumin
10ml smoked paprika
A generous handful of finely chopped parsley
Mix all the ingredients with the minced beef. Oil hands with a dollop of Olive oil. Roll golf-ball-size meatballs. Place on a floured board. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking the soup, add the meatballs. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through. Add spinach, just in time to wilt.
Serve the soup in bowls. Garnish with a dollop of yoghurt, chopped coriander (cilantro), and a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of dried red chilli and a grind of black pepper and sprinkling of sesame seeds. If the soup is too thick add some boiling water before serving. Warm Ciabatta or flat bread can accompany your soup.
Avocados are in season now. I bought a tub of ready-made mashed spicy avocado, also widely available now. Instead of the yoghurt, I spooned a large dollop of guacamole onto the soup.
NB these ready-made tubs of mashed avocado are excellent and keep very well in the freezer. Remove a few hours before needed, defrost and use. Leftovers (if there is) can be kept for a day in the refrigerator.
To make your Avocado guacamole: remove the flesh into a bowl, add salt, pepper, chilli, lemon juice (or white wine vinegar) to taste. Mash. Finely chopped, deseeded tomato, sweet bell pepper, chopped onion, or chives may also be added for a chunkier option.
Here are some common spices used in Moroccan cuisine. Use them to zhoosh up your soups and stews! Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper and sesame seeds.
I love it when Butch decides to cook. He’ll research his recipes, make a shopping list, go out shopping, cook it, serve it while serving drinks and chatting up a storm. He looks groovy in an apron.
Last weekend he did prawns. We sat out on the patio. I can’t wait for summer when we can move into the garden.
While Butch went shopping, I did a little exploring nearer home and found a vibrant hub of activity in Onrus. I bought a delicious gluten-free Orange and Almond drizzle cake and two small lemon meringue tarts at the deli. The meringue was crispy and the crust too—no soggy mess.
We enjoyed a cuppa and fluffy cinnamon and sugar pancakes at the coffee shop on the corner—they’re delicious. I’m a pancake, Tannie, and I must swallow my pride and admit they’re much nicer than mine.
After a visit to the vintage shop, I walked home, a must for anyone up for a chat. I always find the offerings on display beautiful, of good quality and inexpensive. Beautifully wrapped in a paper bag with a bow, I walked home with my new Royal Doulton pudding bowls. I was as pleased as Punch and served the Orange and Almond drizzle cake for pudding with a dollop of thick cream and orange segments poached in Brandy. A winner.
Orange segments in brandy
2-3 oranges, peeled, rinds removed and sliced or segmented.
30 ml sugar
3 star anise.
Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan, simmer for 15 minutes until all the alcohol has boiled away. Remove from the heat, cool, serve with baked citrus desserts or ice cream.
The picture above is a spicy condiment we bought recently proudly produced in Zimbabwe. It's delicious and complimented our prawns beautifully. If you see it consider buying a bottle.
Please note: Unfortunately I did not take a photograph of my soup, not thinking it would be requested. The photographs of the soup are not my own.