Auburns, rusts and sepias are seeping into the landscape, slowly and surely painting over the greens. The purple-flowering Pride of India outside my kitchen window has a carpet of fallen leaves at its feet. Like slow tears, it sheds leaves all day and soon its white branches will be quite shorn of their proud plume. As much as I love summer and mentally resign myself to the inevitability of winter, the warm colours of autumn always manage to touch me. Every time I drive past the maples lining the streets, I sit up and admire their deeply blushing beauty, trying to spot the most stunning of them.
But with the rosy-cheeked allure of autumn comes a cold chill. The juxtaposition of warm colours and cold weather echoes an irony that would fascinate poets and romanticists – beauty, sadness, decay – it’s all there. The growing cold changes everything; the scarves and jackets come out, the refrigerator gets a new set of residents and in our minds we seek the reassuring embrace of fireplaces, blankets and hearty comforting meals.
While rich stews, soups and curries are perfect for the cold, it’s not winter yet, so I endeavour to keep the meals sufficiently warming but not overly heavy. A soup with a moderate amount of meat for flavour rather than body, spiced with intensely fragrant infusions of cinnamon and pepper is the perfect dinner dish for such weather. All the ingredients are kitchen cupboard regulars and I used lamb since it’s quintessentially Moroccan, but chicken or beef too would work beautifully. My soup has dried chickpeas which means that I soaked them for 5-6 hours before I cooked them in the pressure cooker; but canned chickpeas are fine as well.
Moroccan Spiced Lamb and Chickpea Soup
- 400 g ripe red tomatoes
- 200 g lamb cut into bite-sized chunks
- 150 g cooked chickpeas
- 5 shallots or baby onions peeled and halved
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp fresh parsely
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- a few slices of lemon
- Dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for 2 minutes, peel and roughly chop them.
- Put lamb, chopped onions, olive oil, parsley and spices in a deep casserole on moderate heat and cook for 5-7 minutes. Throw in the tomatoes, cover and let it sweat for 10 minutes.
- Now add the cooked chickpeas, 600 ml water, and salt. Cover and gently simmer for 20-30 minutes till the lamb is soft and the soup has amalgamated nicely.
- Time to add the baby onions. Cook them for 15 mins more. Ladle steaming soup into bowls, top each with a slice of lemon and serve.
More related recipes-
Curry with chickpeas and lamb