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November 8th, 2009:

Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons

Moroccan-style vegetable stew

StewPlated3Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons is another in my cache of vegetarian cookbooks, and it’s got some wonderful recipes in it. Delicious, healthy options, representing a range of cuisines. As you might guess from the title, the book organizes soups by season, so it made sense to work from the fall chapter.

Moroccan-style vegetable stew is ButternutSquash4a fairly simple blend of root vegetables and a modest amount of spice, served atop couscous. Preparation could hardly be easier. I started by prepping my vegetables: chopping fairly sizable chunks of butternut squash, potatoes, carrots and onions. The butternut squash took a while to cut up because the rind is hard and resistant to safe cutting, but the other ChoppingPotatoesvegetables went from whole to chunks in moments.

Now it was time to start cooking. I heated some oil in a stew pot and added the onions, cooking them until they were soft and golden. Then I added the squash, potatoes and carrots, plus a can of diced tomatoes and enough water to cover the mixture; I ChoppingOnionbrought this to a boil and stirred in some turmeric and some cumin, then covered the pot and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. During that time I cleaned up the kitchen, then poured a cup of dry couscous into a heatproof bowl and brought two cups of water to a boil. I had to fiddle about a bit to get the water to come to a boil at the time I needed it, just a bit over 15 minutes before the rest of the Stew4stew was done, which meant a few passes with the kettle until the timing was right. So just after I’d poured the water over the couscous and covered the bowl to steam, I added a can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed) to the stew, with a little salt and pepper, and let it simmer another 15 minutes.

When the couscous was ready I uncovered the bowl and fluffed CouscousFluffedthe steamed nuggets with a fork. Then I spooned a fairly generous serving of couscous into each bowl, and ladled in some stew. Dinner was ready, with virtually no work required after the chopping — apart from steaming couscous, washing some dishes, and opening a bottle of wine.

The stew was tasty, though it needed a bit of salt. The flavor StewPlatedwas rich and savory, and this is one dish that is overflowing with beta carotene.

Verdict: Success. Easy prep, tasty stew, healthy meal. This one goes on the list of favorites.