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Moroccan Winter Soup

This is a hearty warming winter soup that is redolent with fragrant Moroccan spices. The base is root vegetables, and their robust flavours work well with the spice mix.

It’s pretty easy – bake the veggies with the spices, then transfer to a saucepan to cook a little more, then blend to soup consistency.

The root vegetables can be varied, but you definitely need some “orange” vegetables like pumpkin or carrots.

A note on the spices. As well as that beautiful spice sumac, I included ras al hanout or baharat. These are Middle Eastern spice mixes. Either mix is good – use whatever you can get your hands on.

Ingredients

500g pumpkin

500g carrots

250g sweet potatoes

250g swede

2 onions cut into chunks

4 -5 garlic cloves

2 teaspoon of ras al hanout or baharat

1 teaspoon sumac

Sea salt and ground black pepper

30mls olive oil

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C fan forced.

Peel the vegetables and chop into rough chunks.

Put all the vegetables into a large baking tray, sprinkle over the spices and salt and pepper. Pour over the olive oil. Mix well, making sure everything is coated with oil.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot or saucepan. Place on the stovetop. Add the stock, and bring to a medium boil.

Cook for 5 minutes to amalgamate the veggies and stock. Using a stick blender, blitz in the saucepan until you have a good soup consistency, still a bit chunky. Or you could put the soup in a blender and process.

Serve with crusty bread, preferably sourdough. You could add a dash of yoghurt and a sprinkle of thyme or coriander for added zhush!

The soup freezes and reheats well.

Preserved Lemons

 

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Preserved lemons are the easiest and one of the nicest ways to make use of a lemon bounty.

In late summer, earlier this year, I was the lucky recipient of lot of beautiful lemons from an old tree in Burradoo, in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW. The lemons were mostly quite big and thick skinned, with a mild tang. They were well used in my kitchen, for several weeks. Lemon cake and lemon curd were obvious candidates for the produce.

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I also made a jar of preserved lemons for a visit to my Palm Beach haven. I’ve made preserved lemons a few times, using various recipes. I turned this time to see what Jamie said on the subject. The following is adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe.

Ingredients

Fennel seeds
Coriander seeds
Cinnamon stick
Peppercorns
Bay Leaf
Sea salt
Large fat Lemons

Method

You will need a good preserving style of  jar for this recipe. Make sure the jar is clean, there’s no need to sterilise.  The jar should also have a strong clasp or well fitting lid. The jar should be airtight.

In a bowl, mix the spices and the sea salt. Cut a cross into the lemons, almost to the base, but making sure that the quarters stay together. Push the seasoned salt into the lemon segments. This can be tricky as the the lemons are slippery, but persevere.

Pack the lemons as tightly as possible into the jar. The less space there is between the lemons the more attractive it will look and you won’t need to use so much salt. As you layer the lemons, juice will be squeezed from the lemons. Make sure the lemons are covered with juice – you can top up with additional lemon juice if needed.

Close the lid and put the jar into a cupboard away from the light. The lemons will be ready after one month of preserving. Jamie says that the lemons will last for about 2 years – I have usually used them all before then!

To use, discard the flesh and pith and use the rind with grilled chicken, lamb or fish, and in Moroccan tagines and casseroles.

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