Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, these exotic dishes from the Middle East will liven up supper time
There’s nothing more nourishing for the body and soul than a warming bowl of soup, especially as the long evenings draw in. These delicious recipes from Veggiestan by Sally Butcher (£25, Pavilon) are based on traditional Middle Eastern dishes and are full of wholesome ingredients. Says author Sally Butcher: “I find the process of making soup therapeutic, even ritualistic, and the business of sharing homemade soup with loved ones is about as rewarding as it gets with food.” So warm up your winter nights with one of these wonderful tasty treats…
PUMPKIN AND RICE SOUP AND ZA’ATAR
1 kg of pumpkin
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2–3 garlic cloves
½ tsp of turmeric
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of curry powder
½ a chili
175g of pudding rice
1 litre of vegetable stock
1 slice of stale bread, cubed
2 tsps of za’atar
Salt and pepper
Pumpkin seeds are just as nutritious as the flesh!
Peel and chunk your pumpkin, retaining the seeds. Heat some oil in the soup pan and fry the onion until it softens.
Add the garlic, spices and chili, followed by the pumpkin, stirring well. Pour the stock on top, bring to the boil and add half of the rice.
Boil the rest of the rice in water for about 15 minutes.
After 30 minutes take it off the heat and blend it, before returning it to the pan and adding the drained rice. Set it back to simmer while you sort out the croûtons.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and toss the bread cubes in. Once they start to colour, add the pumpkin seeds, stirring constantly, and then the za’atar. Cook for one more minute and then take off the heat. Season the soup to taste and serve garnished with the za’atar croûtons.
PERSIAN EGG AND ONION SOUP
6 medium onions
4 tsps of butter
1 tsp of ground turmeric
4 tsps of flour
1 litre of water
Salt and pepper
1 egg per person
Choose one extra – 75g of broken walnuts or 300g of spinach or 200g of soaked prunes
For the garnish:
1 onion, finely chopped
4 tsps of dried mint
2–3 slices of stale bread
Slice the six onions finely and then fry them in melted butter. Once they are soft and starting to colour, add the turmeric and the walnuts (if using) cook for a few moments more and then stir in the flour.
Add the water, stirring constantly, and continue to heat so that the soup starts to thicken. Add the fruit or spinach if using, season to taste, and et to simmer for 20 minutes.
Now prepare the garnish. Fry the onion in a little oil until it starts to brown. Add the mint and cook until the mixture darkens; then set aside. Beat the eggs for the garnish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cut each slice of the bread into six, dunk the resulting squares into the egg, and then fry in hot oil until browned.
Just before you want to dish up, gently crack the eggs one by one into the soup, bubble for a few minutes until they start to set, and then carefully ladle the soup into warm bowls (obviously ensuring each person gets an egg). Float the eggy-bread croûtons in each bowl, and then top with a criss-cross of the minted onion mixture.
“This is regarded as a dish for peasants in Iran – but it is really fit for kings!”
Serve this warming dish with fresh bread and raw onion
ASH-E-SHOLEH-GHALAMKAR OR SCRIBE’S SOUP
Rinse the soaked wheat and then place it in a pan, cover it with water and bring it to the boil, skimming off any husks that rise to the surface. Allow to simmer for around 40 minutes, drain it and reserve the stock.
Heat the oil in a pan and add two of the onions together with the leek. When the vegetables begin to soften, add the spices followed a few minutes later by the kidney beans, chickpeas and cannellini beans and about two litres of water.
After around 30 minutes, add the mung beans and the lentils. After a further 15 minutes, add the rice.
Fry the remaining onion until it starts to catch, and add the mint, stirring for a minute or so more.
Swirl some yoghurt over the ash, streak it with the nana dagh, and finally drizzle the liquid saffron over the top.
These recipes are extracted from Veggiestan by Sally Butcher, (£25, Pavilion).