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Soups, Vegetarian

Spiced vegetable soup

Spiced vegetable soup
Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

I will bow to no one in my affection for holiday cooking. For our Christmas open house every year, I make gallons of posole and black beans. One family holiday tradition is spending a day decorating hundreds of cookies. There ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours, 40 minutes | Serves 10 to 12

Herb oil

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
  • Good handful parsley
  • Good handful dill
  • Good handful cilantro
  • Handful shelled pistachios
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1Put the olive oil, parsley, dill and cilantro in a bowl along with the pistachios, lemon juice and some salt and pepper, and blitz with a hand blender until the mixture is finely chopped and has the consistency of pesto. If you need to slacken the mixture, add a bit more oil.

Spiced vegetable soup

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 2 large onions, diced, plus 1 large onion cut in half and thinly sliced into half-moons, separated
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 3 boiling potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1½-inch chunks
  • 5 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 teaspoons hot pepper paste, such as harissa
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (14- to 15½-ounce) cans chickpeas (reserve the liquid plus a couple of handfuls of chickpeas to garnish)
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 3 1/2 ounces feta cheese
  • Herb oil

Step 1Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add enough olive oil to generously coat the base of the pan. Add the butternut squash, diced onions, garlic, leeks and potatoes, and cook, without browning, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and hot pepper paste, and give it all a good stir to ensure the spices evenly coat the vegetables. Cover the vegetables completely with water, add a generous amount of salt (I would suggest at least 4 teaspoons) and black pepper. Stir once more and continue to cook at a gentle boil until the squash is tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes.

Step 3Purée the mixture in a food processor or blender until you get a lovely, even, smooth soup. Once smooth, add the chickpeas and their liquid, and stir well.

Step 4Adjust the consistency of the soup with additional water if desired, then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cook an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the zucchini and cook for a final 20 minutes before serving.

Step 5While the soup is cooking, drizzle some olive oil into a large frying pan set over high heat, and fry the sliced onion until browned and crispy. Add the reserved chickpeas and brown them along with the onions. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions and chickpeas from the pan and set aside. This makes about 3½ quarts soup.

Step 6Pour the soup into large bowls (preferably wide, shallow ones), then generously crumble the feta on top. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the herb oil into each bowl over the feta. Finally, add the reserved crispy fried onions and chickpeas.

Note: Adapted from Sabrina Ghayour's "Persiana."



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