Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea Soup

To my readers:  Project Food Blog is a competition hosted by foodbuzz to find the ultimate food blogger.  I am an active participant – here’s my profile and this is my second challenge.  I know that this is not a Chinese soup – but the challenge called for something out of my comfort zone so I have decided to venture away from anything Asian and yes, all the way to Africa.  Please vote for me on Sept 27, 2010 when voting opens!

Something that is outside of my ethnic comfort zone would definitely have to be a place where I am DYING to go and have NEVER been.  How does MOROCCO sound?  It’s in the Kingdom of Morocco, located in North Africa.  To me, this is foreign, exotic, sexy and new.

Because I am the Chinese soup lady and while being true to my passion for soups, I decided to try and make a Moroccan Sweet Potato, Carrot and Chickpea Soup.

The challenge of this challenge:  I’m in Hong Kong and while it’s supposedly an international city – finding non-Asian ingredients aren’t always easy.  Lucky for me (after 2 rounds of local supermarkets), I went to an international supermarket and paid an extravagant amount of money (as compared to my normal soup fare) for organic and imported goods.  The interesting thing about this soup is that you almost start it like cooking a meal, but the end result is a delicious and fragrant soup.  The Chinese don’t use such fragrant spices (in fact, a majority of the Chinese herbs are quite smelly), so my house immediately became an exotic place as soon as I added the spices with my husband coming home to say that the hallway of our apartment smelled “different”.  Ah-haha… right.  If he only knew how different dinner would be tonight! Ah-hahahaha…

The end result?  I loved it and my husband compared it to a borscht, but he still downed 1 giant bowl.  I then brought over a container full for my family the day after and my mom had 2 bowls, my pregnant sister had 1 bowl and even my sister in confinement (a Chinese postpartum methodology) had to sample some.  You see, I could totally be an everything soup lady!  The only damper to this experience was that my kids didn’t seem to appreciate it like the adults did (after experimenting the soup on 4 kids).  I suspect that I will need to help broaden their horizons in the culinary arena by introducing more new and exciting flavors to their relatively limited Asian cuisines.

Here’s the recipe I found.

The magic ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 600g of sweet potato, peeled & diced
  • 500g of carrots, peeled & sliced
  • 6 cups of chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
  • 300g of canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • Bread croutons (optional)

Road to soup greatness:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot with medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic, stirring, cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in coriander, cumin and chili powder.  Cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  4. Add in sweet potato and carrots.  Cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock and cover.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
  7. Add chickpeas, stir and cover.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until chickpeas have softened.
  8. Blend in batches and return to pot, simmer for 5 minutes, stirring.
  9. Ladle to soups, top with croutons and serve!

See, it looks like a meal….but I love the colors, smell and these are some of my fav ingredients.

Like I said in my previous challenge, my palette prefers a little more H2O.

Getting up close and personal to the soup.

The great thing about making this soup is that it is a complete 180 degree of what I normally make and eat.  To put this into perspective, it’s probably near impossible to find a Moroccan restaurant in Hong Kong – so instead of going there now, why not bring Morocco to Hong Kong?  And no honey (this part dedicated to my husband), it doesn’t mean that I no longer want to go there, it makes me want to go there MORE!


Ingredient Name: Chickpeas, garbanzo bean, Indian bean

Traditional Chinese Name: 鷹嘴豆 (yīngzuǐ dòu), 三角豆 (sānjiǎo dòu)

What is this?
  • A small, edible vegetable that are the size of marbles and are commonly beige in color (although they also come in green and brown)
  • It is more a middle Eastern / European / Indian legume that has known to have a long history in these cuisines
  • Chickpeas are the insides of pods of the Fabaceae family of plants
  • They are versatile and can be eaten cold in salads, cooked in soups and stews, or ground as a type of flour for making breads, hummus and a variety of other uses
  • It has a starchy and nut like taste with a buttery texture

How do I prepare it?

  • Can be purchased as fresh chickpeas in a can (often soaking in a thick liquid to keep the peas moist)
  • Can be purchased dried (washing and soaking in water for 12-24 hours is required to soften the peas)

Where can I buy this?

  • Most supermarkets will carry the canned versions
  • Not readily available in Asian supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas cost around $16 HKD in Hong Kong

Any benefits?

  • Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein and are high in dietary fiber
  • They are high in Folate, Zinc, Iron, Calcium and are low in fat
  • Chickpeas are also said to help lower cholesterol and great for diabetics (as it is slow to raise the sugar level after meals)

Any precautions?

  • People with gout should take caution and eat chickpeas in moderation due to their high protein content

Additional Information

  • Dried chickpeas can store for up to 12 months if kept in an airtight container away from moisture
  • Cooked chickpeas will store for up to 3 days in the fridge

Dried chickpeas