From Too Many Chefs -

February 7, 2006
Spicy Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

veggiesoup2.jpgWe apologize for the temporary lapse in blogging. When Barrett and I actually find ourselves in the same room (and talk is free) the time just gets away from us. We've taken photos, we've talked about potential posts, we've drunk copious amounts of wine and we have not gotten around to actually updating the site.

Barrett and the Redhead have gone to the land of Rijstafel and so I can load the dishwasher, clean, download photos and think about putting up a post.

And so I turn to a dish that I created in anticipation of their visit. The Critic and I are omnivores. Yes, we eat vegetables. But we also eat meat. But on Sunday when I contemplated the upcoming arrival of Barrett and the Redhead (fish-eating vegetarians) I thought I could be clever with the dinner I made for myself and the other main carnivore in the family. I could make a soup which would work in BOTH worlds: vegetarian and meat-eating.

And I succeeded. In fact, I feel like this soup was substantial and tasty enough to make the meat superfluous. I added extra meat for the Critic when he called for it, but for myself next time around I'll leave it out altogether. The North African spice and the stodgy chickpeas left me feeling completely sated and able to contemplate a vegetarian existance...except for the addiction to the occasional slice of bacon or roast chicken. Oh yeah, and rare beef. But aside from that, I'd do fine. Especially with this soup.

Spicy Vegetarian Soup

2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 onion
1 leek
1 head of fennel, chopped in bite-size pieces
1 can (about 250 g) chickpeas, or the equivalent cooked
1 can (about 125 g) sweet corn
1 small red pepper, finely sliced (mine was a fresh Cayenne pepper)
250 ml of tomato sauce or 3-4 fresh tomatoes chopped finely
1 potato, chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/2 a head of fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp spicy paprika (or subsitute harissa - I didn't have any on hand)
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 Tbs olive oil
OPTIONAL: 6 poultry merguez
1 liter vegetable broth

Sweat the onions and the leek (sliced in thin rounds) in the olive oil. When they are soft, add the ginger and garlic. Add the paprika and fennel seeds and cook for a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until the vegetables are tender. Taste for salt, pepper and spiciness. Depending on your broth, you may need more salt. Depending on your audience, you may need more spice. You might also want to add some cooked poultry merguez, cut in small pieces and cooked until done.

Serve with toasted rounds of French bread that have been rubbed with fresh garlic. And feel healthy and superior for having a low-calorie, high-taste dinner that even your vegan friends won't reject. In fact, they'll come back for seconds! (Always providing you left out the merguez, of course...)

Posted by Meg in Sussex at February 7, 2006 2:58 PM | TrackBack

It sounds like you guys are having a great visit!

And the soup sounds really luscious, too!

Posted by Barbara on February 7, 2006 at 11:02 PM

Barbara, in re-reading this I just realized I forgot to mention one of the most important ingredients: half a head of fresh garlic! Yippee - this is the earlies I have ever seen fresh garlic and so I bought half a dozen heads at the market last Saturday. I was especially pleased as Barrett told me last year he had never seen it in Chicago and so I was able to show it to him!

The recipe is now corrected, by the way. I shouldn't blog late at night after a couple of glasses of wine and no dinner...

; )

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 8, 2006 at 12:40 AM

Mmm, that sounds good!

We have had success too with this kind of thing when entertaining our vegetarian friends - and have also been converted to the vegetarian version (even though we are both dedicated omnivores) Three of our favourites:

- Black bean soup with smoked corn kernels
- Tourtiere made with TVP instead of ground meat
- "chicken" noodle soup (asian style) made with vegetable stock and tofu.

Barrett, I wonder if you can't GROW garlic where you are in Chicago. I don't know if you have a garden there but if not, perhaps you have a balcony? You can grow garlic in a pot and then you too can have fresh garlic sometime in August.


Posted by ejm on February 8, 2006 at 8:52 AM

Elizabeth, I've read in the gardening column on the Observer that all you need to do is plant it in the fall or early enough in the winter so that it experiences at least one good frost before the spring. I've tried this a couple of times and never come up with anything larger than a small shallot in size.

Then again, since Chicago has much harsher winters than Paris, maybe Barrett will have better luck? ; )

I'm just glad I can at least get the stuff in the markets here!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 8, 2006 at 2:40 PM

I've heard that one can plant it in February or March and still have garlic. I plant ours in the garden in the fall (I'm in Toronto where the winters are not as severe as Chicago winters) and have never really had a tremendous amount of success with the size of the garlic I've grown. But I think it's largely because I don't have any sunny areas in our tiny garden. Still, even the little tiny bulbs of fresh garlic are amazing. I love how it looks like the inside of an apple when it's cut into. And how hot it is!

I didn't know that it required a freeze though. I wonder if you put it into the freezer for a week or so before planting it if that might mimic a hard frost. I really should do a bit more proper research into it.


Posted by ejm on February 8, 2006 at 4:16 PM

Aha... these may prove useful:

I particularly like the last one that talks about when to plant in cold climate areas and when to plant in warm climate areas. (I didn't find anything about it needing frost to grow.)


Posted by ejm on February 8, 2006 at 4:36 PM

Thanks Elizabeth - your links were very interesting. I think I'll give it another try next September and make sure to fertilize a few times. The only problem is we have a Northwest facing terrace, not so great for gardening! : (

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 9, 2006 at 2:57 AM

So are you planting in containers on your terrace? I'm just guessing but you might be able to plant now or perhaps at the beginning of March and be able to harvest some garlic in mid summer. I gather that the container has to be nice and deep - also big enough (at least 10 inch diameter rim seems to be the rule) so that if there is a frost, the newly planted things don't freeze and turn to mush.

The only time that our garlic gets any sun at all is in the spring. The rest of the time, it is in deep shade because the overhead canopy has leafed. But the upper parts of the garlic still look nice and the little tiny heads that we harvest really are delicious.

Perhaps you could put garlic in the center of a pot and parsley or chervil around the edge. (Parsley and chervil both like rich soil too.) And maybe toss a few impatiens onto the edge for colour if you want.


Posted by ejm on February 9, 2006 at 7:03 AM

Okay, Elizabeth you've convinced me! I'll try to get some planted this weekend. We have lots of containers and I can throw it in one of the deep ones with the lilacs. I'll let you know how it grows!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 9, 2006 at 8:11 AM

Oooh, I'm all excited now!! I hope it works out!


P.S. You have lilacs in a container and there's room for something else?

Posted by ejm on February 9, 2006 at 11:13 PM

This was very filling, quite spicy, and very, very good.

Posted by on February 10, 2006 at 4:44 AM

This was very filling, quite spicy, and very, very good.

Posted by barrett on February 10, 2006 at 4:44 AM