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!

Chinese Pumpkin with Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup

Chinese Pumpkin with Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup

Chinese Pumpkin with Sweet Potato and Tomato Soup

Soup Name: Chinese pumpkin with sweet potato and tomato soup

Traditional Chinese Name: 三甘湯 (sān gān tāng)

Nature:  Slightly warming

Taste: Sweet

For more videos, you can follow us on YouTube.

 

The name is quite interesting because I learned about this soup from my vegetable vendor in the wet mart in Hong Kong.  The 3 (三 – sān) implies 3 keys vegetables ingredients, that being:  Chinese pumpkin, sweet potato and tomatos.  The base of this soup is rich in vitamins, extremely sweet and a neutral soup for the whole family to drink.  You can add other ingredients to this vegetable soup pending your creativity and physical needs.

What’s involved?

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 90 mins

Total time: 105 mins

Serves: 6 bowls

Ingredients
Cooking Instructions
  1. Boil your soup water
  2. Blanch pork in boiling water
  3. Cut up pumpkin, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and onions into large cubes
  4. In a shallow pan, quickly fry the onions (optional step, but it really enhances the flavour of the onions in the soup)
  5. When water boils, add all the ingredients together
  6. Boil on high for 30 minutes, reduce to simmer for another hour.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes

Ingredient Name:

Sweet potatoes

Traditional Chinese Name:

蕃薯 (gān shǔ)

Nature:  Neutral

Taste:  Sweet

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Sweet potatoes are one of my favourite sweet starches used in Chinese soups and desserts.  It’s versatile, readily accessible in most countries and cultures, and compliments nicely with most meats and simple Chinese herbs (such as red dates and longans).  It can also be served as a savory or a sweet dish, which means having some in the fridge all the time, makes soup crafting so much easier!  As well, as a side note, you can also use it in western dishes or as a side for dinner… and they have amazing shelf life!

How do I prepare it?

      • Wash thoroughly in cool water
      • Peel skin prior to use and remove ends
      • For soups, I will use larger cuts and for desserts, I will use bite-sized pieces

What is the cost & where to buy?

      • The price will range depending on the brand, type, and size of sweet potato, although they aren’t very expensive (unless you’re buying imported and if i do, it’s usually Japanese, but I’ve also found Hawaiian ones in Canada are also super delicious!)

Any benefits?

      • From a Traditional Chinese medicine perspective, sweet potatoes are neutral and blend nicely with all sorts of soups and desserts (both cooling and warming soups)
      • Sweet potatoes are extremely rich in beta-carotene, dietary fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin B
      • They are a good source of simple starches
      • Choose orange fleshed sweet potatoes for a boost of beta-carotene over their paler counterparts
      • Sweet potatoes have amazing shelf life, usually a few weeks in the fridge if they are fresh

Any precautions?

      • Be sure to buy firm sweet potatoes with minimal softness (when it’s soft, it’s not fresh and may be end of shelf life)

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