chermoula root vegetable soup

vegan chermoula root vegetable soup recipe

a decade ago, my best friend and i travelled across turkey for 6 weeks. being cheap students and vegetarian, we were thrilled with all of the food options available to us. we ate delicious turkish breakfasts of eggs, veggies, feta and honey, gozleme (turkish style crepes), pide (turkish style flatbread pizzas), simit (sesame covered bagels), lentil soup was at every restaurant, and our favorite snack was roasted chickpeas, lebiebi, which you could buy at every little shop. these chickpeas were simple, satisfyingly salty, nourishing, and shelf stable, so we could pack them on our treks and adventures. 

i've tried making roasted chickpeas for myself, many many times. lot's of varieties, like this recipe. they are delicious and crispy right out of the oven, but leftovers just loose their fun texture. i don't know how they make them in turkey, but i'd never been able to recreate it or find a producer that makes them locally. and then i discovered biena chickpeas at my local co-op. finally i had that simple, salty, nourishing, and shelf stable snack i was craving. or at least the "sea salt" flavor my co-op carried was simple. and then i discovered they make 9 other flavors. i'm now obsessed with cinnamon crunch and dark chocolate covered chickpeas. flavors they certainly did not have in turkey! 

as someone who loves textures in salads and soups, especially atop a pureed soup, the plain and habanero flavored chickpeas are a delicious topper. in keeping with the middle eastern theme, i made a chermoula spiced root vegetable soup that doubles as a stew over rice. the herbs can be blended into the soup, or left fresh as a topping. either way, is fabulous! 

chermoula root vegetable stew or pureed soup ~ makes about 6 cups
1.25 lbs root veggies (any combination of carrot, sweet potato, golden beet or winter squash)
2 small red onions
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 cup dried red lentils (ideally soaked overnight & rinsed)
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon corriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric or a pinch of saffron *optional
1 teaspoon berber spice or aleppo pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika or smoked paprika
1 quart vegetable stock
zest and juice of one lemon
2 teaspoon maple syrup or coconut sugar *optional
small bunch cilantro and mint, wash and dry
1 bag (5oz) sea salt or habanero biena chickpeas

chermoula: this north african blend of spices and herbs is typically made into a marinade or sauce. here, i blended the traditional ingredients into the dish for ease of a one pot meal, rather than making a separate sauce. this recipe is great as a hearty stew (using just 3 cups broth) served over rice. or pureeing in a blender into a lighter soup. you can blend the fresh herbs into the stew/soup, or reserve for topping. the green will just shift the overall color of the soup if you're pureeing it!

notes on spices: if you feel like having some really special flavor development, use whole cumin and coriander seeds, toasted in a pan for a few minutes until fragrant, and then crushed in spice blender or mortar. or skip that step and just used pre-ground spices. i've also offered some options for adding a bit of saffron or turmeric, mostly to add to the vibrancy of the soup, but both offer great addition in flavor too. use smoked paprika if you like smokiness, otherwise sweet or hot paprika fit within traditional chermoula as well. if you can't find berber or aleppo pepper, just use red chili flakes to taste.

to prepare: crush or fine dice garlic and set aside. clean and cut root vegetables into bite size cubes. i tend to not peel my root vegetables, but you'll have a more vibrant color soup if you do. larger cubes are also fine, if you know you'll be pureeing the soup, just make sure they are roughly the same size.

chop red onion and add to large soup pot with olive oil and salt. heat over medium heat, covered, to sweat the onions for a few minutes, stirring as needed to not burn. add spices and garlic and sauté for another minute, uncovered, stirring often. add rinsed lentils, prepared root vegetables and vegetable stock (3 cups of stock to start, if you want to make a stew, adding more stock or water if you want to make it into a thinner pureed soup). cover and simmer until vegetables and lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. stir in zest and lemon juice, maple syrup, and possibly add in handfuls of chopped cilantro and mint to taste (or reserve herbs for topping).

if making this into a pureed soup, transfer portions to a blender, adding a bit of stock or water if needed to thin, and puree until smooth. or if you're leaving it as a stew, you might like to serve it over a grain or cauliflower rice. top bowls with biena's sea salt or habanero chickpeas, fresh herbs, maybe an extra drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of aleppo pepper! i served up leftovers for lunch with some avocado toast topped with za'atar and cilantro, keeping with the north african theme. delightful!

this post was "paid for" in chickpeas by biena foods. thanks for the delicious snacks, biena!