You can file this one under “stuff I actually make with frequency.” Most of the time I just have an idea in an offhand sort of way and it ends up here. Then there’s that pile of old reliables that I make all the time, without even thinking that maybe they could be awesome and fun-wow for you guys too. So we’re gonna try that today. We got back from New York the other night and I think I’m still full? I really wanted the ritual of a leisurely, stew-centered afternoon though, just to usher in this fall thing properly and to get back into the rhythm of everyday living. The air smells like crushed grape skins and crunchy, slowly-fading leaves at night. I got myself a new mug for all those hot beverages and our apple tree is killing it out there right now. Give me all of your autumn leaf emojis, people. We are READY over here.
Also perhaps you’ll notice some boxed stock and canned items in the photo below? The first time I accidentally flipped on the TV to an episode of Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade, she was fixing up a little pot of soup. I didn’t know the premise of the show at this point, so I kept watching. You know what that braud did? She mixed a quart-box of tomato soup with a jar of salsa, simmered that shit, and called it MEXICAN TOMATO SOUP. I mean… this is a little different–it’s a little more on that ACTUAL homemade tip. I’m not exactly steady-jarring my own tomatoes and simmering stock when I have a spare couple of hours (HA!). Generally I say (legit) homemade is better on all fronts, but when you’ve got yourself a stew goin’ with lots of vegetables and spices, those subtleties are less noticeable I think. I keep a decent supply of low-sodium veggie stock, tinned tomatoes (preferably sans BPA in the can’s lining) and beans for when I’m in a pinch/don’t wanna wait. That’s how this little number came about and now I’ve got lunch for a week. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that wholesome pantry crutches are awesome, and that Miss Sandra is not my fave human being on the planet. That’s all.
But on this stew thing! The first time I had a bit of a fancier, totally vegan dining experience, I ate something like this. I read “sweet potatoes, warm spices, smoky tomatoes, wilted greens etc etc,” on the menu and knew that it was going to change my life. Yep, totally did. It was familiar, unusual, comforting, new, exciting… and it came with an adorable scoop of purple rice pilaf. And there was really good organic wine. Shortly afterward I was sold on the whole plant-based way of life and not too long after that, I figured out how to make this supreme comfort food all by my badass self. I might even say that my version is better than that first time memory. I add chopped dates and a little lemon zest, go heavy on the warm spices–the cinnamon is the best part–and I utilize one of my fave pantry items: fire roasted crushed tomatoes. Yeah dudes. Gettin’ real cozy up in here.
moroccan-style vegetable + chickpea stew
serves: makes a big pot
notes: I like to slowly cook the onions and spices out in the oil before I add everything else, almost stewing them in a way. The raw-ness of the spice goes away and the onions melt into the soup in a special luxurious kind of way.
big knob of coconut oil
1 medium onion, small dice
2-3 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp ground coriander
chili flakes (optional)
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 dates, pitted + chopped
2 carrots, chopped (1/2 inch pieces)
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled + chopped (1/2 inch pieces)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
3 cups vegetable stock (or more, depending)
1 yellow pepper, stemmed and chopped (1/2 inch pieces)
2 cups (or a 14-15 ounce can) cooked chickpeas
salt + pepper
couple handfuls of chopped greens
chopped flat leaf parsley/cilantro
fine grated lemon zest
extra virgin olive oil
cooked brown rice/quinoa/millet/couscous
Heat the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and lower heat until they are sizzling kind of quietly. Once the onions are a bit soft and translucent, add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander and chili flakes. Slowly sauté and stir this mix until the onions are really, really soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped dates, carrots and sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables in the spices and oil. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 10-12 minutes.
Add the chopped yellow peppers and chickpeas and stir the soup. Season the whole thing again with salt and pepper. Simmer until the yellow peppers are tender and the sweet potatoes are quite soft, about 5 minutes. Add the greens to the pot (and more stock if necessary) and cook for 1 minute, or until just-wilted. Check the soup for seasoning and serve it hot with cooked grains, drizzles of olive oil, lemon zest and chopped herbs.
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