Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup Sure To Warm You Up

A nourishing North African-style soup.
A nourishing North African-style soup.

On a wintery night, this is the soup you will want to curl up with in a most generous bowl.

“Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup” is substantial with tender chunks of lamb shoulder, nutty chickpeas, sweet carrots, and minerally spinach. It’s also a riot of aromatics, thanks to South African-Moroccan ras el hanout and harissa. And it’ll warm you through and through from the very first sip, given its kick of complex spiciness.

This very fine soup is from Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook” (Figure 1, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book features recipes from the whimsically named Dirty Apron Cooking School in Vancouver, B.C. that’s owned by David and Sara Robertson. Sara handles the business-side, while David, a long-time chef, oversees the classes, as well as Dirty Apron’s deli and catering business.

It’s the second cookbook by David, who also wrote “The Dirty Apron Cookbook” (Figure 1, 2015), which was designed to bring the cooking school into your home by teaching invaluable techniques.

The follow-up cookbook is all about sharing the love of home-cooking with friends and family in dishes such as “Creme Brulee French Toast,” “Kabocha and Wild Rice Salad,” “Spanish Manchego Meatballs with Saffron Basmati Rice,” and “Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake.”

This soup is a breeze to make. You make your own ras el hanout by stirring together a number of ground spices. You’ll end up with more than you need for this soup. Just tuck the rest away in a sealed container, then sprinkle it on seared cauliflower florets, roasted potatoes, grilled shrimp, scrambled eggs or in vinaigrettes.

Ras el hanout that takes seconds to make.
Ras el hanout that takes seconds to make.

The recipe calls for cooking your own chickpeas from dried. The accompanying recipe for that also makes more than you’ll need for the soup. Feel free to halve the recipe or use the extra cooked chickpeas to make hummus or to toss into green salads.

Of course, you could take the easy route and use canned chickpeas instead But cooked from dried in all of one hour, they have worlds more nutty flavor and far better texture.

This soup grabs you from the get-go — from its fragrance that transports you to another place to its layers of flavor that go on and on.

A soup that's filled with good stuff.
A soup that’s filled with good stuff.

Moroccan Lamb, Tomato and Chickpea Soup

(Serves 4 to 6)

For ras el hanout:

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For rest of the soup:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 pound lamb shoulder, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon harissa powder

1 teaspoon Ras El Hanout (see above)

1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick

1 cup tomato puree

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 preserved lemon (store-bought or home-made), chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

1 cup cooked chickpeas (see recipe below)

2 cups loosely packed spinach

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

For ras el hanout: Combine all ingredients in an airtight container and use when needed.

For the soup: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add lamb and sear for 2 minutes in total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a plate and set aside. Keep the fat in the pan, add onion and saute for 2 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic and saute for another minute. Reduce heat to low, then add harissa, ras el hanout, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black pepper, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon stick. Saute for a minute, until fragrant.

Add tomato puree and stock. Bring to a boil, then add reserved lamb, carrots, preserved lemon and dried mint. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes to develop the flavors.

Turn off the heat and stir in chickpeas and spinach. Remove the cinnamon stick and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Chickpeas

(Makes 4 cups)

2 cups dried chickpeas

1 tablespoon salt

Place chickpeas in a large bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

Drain chickpeas, then transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, add salt, and cook over medium heat for 1 hour, until soft, but not falling apart. Drain and refrigerate until needed.

From “Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook” by David Robertson

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