Moroccan butternut and chickpea soup

I dreamt up this soup on a miserable rainy day a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s the first thing I crave when the weather turns horrible. It’s a really filling, warming soup, spiked with Moroccan spices and chilli. It’s really good with salty feta crumbled on top and served with toasted, buttered rye bread.

moroccan soup

Serves 4

  • 1 kg of peeled, chopped butternut
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of harissa pasta
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed ginger
  • Half a cup of red split lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 tin of chopped, peeled tomotoes
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly
  • Tumeric
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cinnamon
  • Chilli flakes
  • Fresh coriander leaves and some feta, to serve
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder

Fry the onion in a bit of oil until it starts to soften. Add the harissa paste, garlic, ginger and a sprinkle of tumeric, cinnamon and cumin seeds. Fry until the spices become fragrant. Add the carrots, butternut and the tin of tomatoes. Fill up the empty tin with water and add that too, along with the stock powder. Turn the heat up to high. Let the soup boil for about 10 minutes, and then add the lentils. Keep it on a high heat, and stir occasionally. Once the butternut starts getting mushy, squish it and stir into the soup. The soup is ready when the butternut has melted into the liquid. Add the chickpeas and a pinch of chilli flakes if you like. Serve the soup with crumbled feta and coriander leaves.

Moroccan lentil and butternut pie

I’ve had a craving for Moroccan-spiced food recently. It probably has something to do with this wintry weather in Cape Town. Moroccan spices are deliciously warming and fragrant – perfect for autumnal suppers. I made up this pie recipe on the hop, and (if I do say so myself) it’s rather good. I served it with crispy sweet potato wedges sprinkled with chilli flakes.

moroccan lentil and butternut pie

Serves 8

500g peeled butternut, cut into small cubes
400g courgettes, grated
100g spinach
2 tins of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
2 free-range eggs
200g feta, crumbled
2 T toasted pine nuts
2 T slivered almonds
2 T each of chopped flat-leaf parsley and coriander
20 raisins
1 onion, finely chopped
2 dried apricots, finely chopped
2 heaped tsp harissa paste
1 tsp crushed garlic
Whole cumin seeds, paprika and whole coriander seeds
1 tsp honey
250g filo pastry
Melted butter

Heat the oven to 180 C. Put the butternut in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin seeds and paprika. Roast until the butternut is cooked, about 40 minutes.

In the meantime, put the grated courgette into a colander and sprinkle with some salt. Leave over the sink for about 20 minutes and then squeeze to drain the excess water.

Fry the onion in some olive oil until it starts to soften and then add the harissa paste, garlic and a pinch each of cumin and coriander seeds. If you like heat, add a good pinch of dried chilli flakes. Fry for a minute or two and then add the courgette. Fry until the courgette is softened, and then add the lentils. Turn up the heat at this point to burn off all the water. Cook the lentils for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until it’s wilted.

Combine the eggs, honey, apricots, raisins, feta, almonds, pine nuts and herbs and mix together with the lentils.

Brush a bit of melted butter on the bottom of a large casserole dish and lay down a sheet of filo pastry. Brush a bit of melted butter on top of the sheet and put another one on top. Repeat until you have four sheets on top of each other. Pour in the butternut cubes and spread across the base of the pie. On top of this pour in the lentil mixture and spread evenly. Now comes the fun part – scrunch up sheets of filo and cover up the top of the pie to make the ‘crust’. Brush the sheets with melted butter. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Potato and chickpea curry

I made this the other day when some friends came over for dinner. Curries are the best dishes to make when you have to feed a lot of people – just double or triple recipe quantities. It’s also a good idea to make a curry the night before if you’re having people over for dinner, as curries are always better when they’ve had a day or two to stew. This curry is delicious for leftovers – just re-heat and serve with fresh coriander.

I got this recipe from a new favourite cookbook – Quick and easy Asian vegetarian recipes.

potato and chickpea curry

Serves 6 heartily

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained
  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes (or less, depending on taste)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground tumeric
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • 2 tsp crushed ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes until cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil or ghee in a wok over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaves and stir-fry until aromatic. Add the onion and stir-fry on a low heat for 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, ground coriander, cumin, chilli, tumeric, salt, and garam masala and stir fry over a low heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, potatoes and the water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce becomes thicker.

Remove from the heat and stir in the lime or lemon juice, and the ginger. Serve with fresh coriander and chutney.