Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pumpkin Soup...Moroccan Style!

I was delighted when Imane, my coworker and fellow lover-of-cooking, presented me with a little organic pumpkin and a note: "Happy Early Fall & Happy Cooking." I spent two weeks deliberating over the most creative possibility for this charming vegetable.
From Making Pumpkin Soup

Of course, I emailed my dear friend and greatest cooking inspiration, Jenny, and we devised a plan. Choose a basic pumpkin soup recipe, adapt it to your liking, and share! I perused many recipes, and realized that aside from the pumpkin-apple sweet idea, none of these quite fit the bill for me. 

I devised a way to fill my soup with my favorite Moroccan spices: cinnamon, saffron, and cumin. Accompany those with the fun things I find in the market: quince, big yellow raisins. There you have it, a recipe of my own whim, and a day to make it happen. Here is my story of Moroccan cooking.

This rainy morning I wandered to the underground market, basket in hand, expecting a lull in activity. Not so, as I was pushed aside multiple times by the guy squeeging water from the walkway.  Here are my main ingredients.
From Making Pumpkin Soup
My nuss (that's half in Arabic) kilos of ingredients are weighed quickly on the scale and bagged up by efficient hands.

From Making Pumpkin Soup
Part of the adventure of cooking in Morocco is getting the ingredients. A woman cannot go to the market alone without a sense of humor. Trying to be careful about taking pictures of others, I asked this man if I could photograph his vegetables. What followed was a series of posed  shots, taken by the guy selling tomatoes, of the shopkeepers and I. 
From Making Pumpkin Soup
All said and done, I paid decent prices and walked, heavy with produce, back to my kitchen. After thoroughly washing my vegetables, which includes a bath of water and a dash of bleach (lesson learned from past experience), I attempt to capture the beauty of this food before I chop it all up! 

 An army of zucchini
From Making Pumpkin Soup

Moroccan celery
 Grumpy-faced quince
My adventure is almost complete. "There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the Real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good."  As artist Brian Andreas so eloquently puts it, it's time to share this soup with the friends I've made in Morocco. 


Moroccan-spiced Pumpkin Soup
Karissa Swanson Moore
October 9, 2010

Vegetable Broth
·      Pinch of salt
·      Freshly ground black pepper
·      3 cinnamon sticks
·      8 garlic cloves, chopped
·      ½ head of a small cabbage, cut into large pieces
·      2 large green onions (5 small)
·      5 carrots
·      6 Celery stems and leaves
·      1 bunch of parsley, knotted
·      3 small zucchini, chopped into large pieces

Pumpkin Soup
·      Vegetable broth (see above) or Chicken Broth
·      1 small pumpkin (approx. 1.5 lbs), peeled and cubed.
·      2 quince, peeled and cubed
·      1 ¼ cup yellow raisins
·      1 medium yellow or Vidalia onion
·      3 T. butter
·      1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
·      ½ tsp. ground cumin
·      ½ tsp. ground ginger
·      Generous pinch of saffron, soaked in about ¼ cup of hot water
·      1 cup plain yogurt
        Crushed walnuts for garnish

Start with the vegetable broth. In a big kettle, bring water to boil with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, chop vegetables and put them in the water. Add water to cover, if necessary. Add spices. Once boiling, turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and allow simmering for 2 hours.

When the broth is almost finished, start preparing the pumpkin soup. Heat a large saucepan; add butter, and sauté the pumpkin, followed by the quince, then the onion.

Remove the carrots, cabbage, and zucchini from the vegetable broth and add them to the pumpkin mixture. Pour some of the broth into this mixture, making sure to not add too much or the soup will be watery.

Add the spices, except the saffron, and bring to boil. When the quince and pumpkin are nearly tender, add 1 cup of the raisins and the saffron-water mixture.

When all ingredients are cooked, use a mixing wand or blender to puree the soup.

Present with a dollop of plain yogurt, crushed walnuts, and yellow raisins. Serve with crusty bread.