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.

Moroccan-inspired chickpea stew

Serves 6

I first made this on a chilly, rainy night – it’s mushy, spicy and hearty – a perfect stew for cold weather.

Moroccan-inspired chickpea stew

  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into rough chunks
  • 2 medium brinjals, chopped into rough chunks
  • 400g courgettes, chopped into large chunks
  • 800g tin (or 2x 400g tin) peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 3 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 3 cups of hot vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 100g dried apricots
  • 4 T sultanas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 heaped tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 400g couscous
  • vegetable stock
  • juice of 2 oranges
  • zest of ½ an orange
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • ½ cup plain fat free or low fat yoghurt

Fry onion in a tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. After a couple of minutes, add the garlic. Fry for a minute or two, then add in the spices. Get those going for about 3 minutes, and then chuck in your veggies, tomatoes and stock. Turn the heat up and bring to a boil, and then put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Meanwhile, soak the apricots in some hot water for 10 minutes and chop them into rough pieces. Make the yoghurt sauce: combine the yoghurt with a dash each of paprika, cumin seeds and a light sprinkling of chilli flakes. Squeeze in about two teaspoons of lemon juice and mix in a tablespoon of chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

After 20 minutes of simmering, take the lid off the pot. Check the stew for consistency – if it’s too watery, turn the heat up. After about 5 minutes, add the apricots, sultanas, lemon juice and zest, and another ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Add chilli flakes according to taste.

When you take the lid off, start making the couscous. Make the couscous according to the packet instructions, adding orange juice to the veg stock. When the couscous is ready, fluff it with a fork and add the orange zest and parsley.

Serve the stew on top of the couscous, with a dollop of yoghurt.