Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Travels in Taste

One of the (many) regions of the world I 've always been enthralled with, and hope to visit one day, is Morocco. From all the tourism and encyclopedia articles I've read and photos I've gawked at, the thought of a land so rich in history, culture, religion and colour begs me to visit. I can't imagine a better afternoon than arriving in Marrakesh and trawling the Bab Doukkala food market, with the opportunity to find anything from perfectly dried fruits, to jars of saffron, or tubs of giant, briny olives. The aromas of this north African land's traditionally known dishes are their own wonders to behold, as are the vibrant shapes and colours of their textiles and ingredients and the distinctive music.

Soup has a certain, inexplicable way of warming the body and soul of anyone who encounters it. It could be any kind, from any region of the world, and the feeling that I can't describe as anything but "comfortable" would be the same. Making soup from scratch (or mostly scratch), whenever you can also a great way to explore the world without leaving your home. For me, it allows my mind to instantly board a plane to anywhere I want to go, wherever piques my interest or holds a special place in my heart, and visit - even just for the afternoon.

My mom shares my love for the unique country (though maybe not as feverishly), especially the colourful clothes and savoury flavours. As a result, the two of us have made the culinary trip a few times - from the ratatouille-like kamfounata, to a spicy and thick stew and even a simple but elegant jewelled couscous pilaf. With our trip coming up along with the promise of a visit to the "Disney Morocco" in EPCOT, I couldn't get the country off my mind! I wanted to capture, as best I could, my favourite nuances of the country - while concocting a delicious and portable meal for my mother's lunchbox.

Moroccan Inspired Vegetable Soup
Serves 10 as lunch
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
5 medium carrots, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tbsp orange zest
6 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup orange juice
1 19 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crushed
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 cup Golden Jewel grains blend (I found this at Bulk Barn - it's a mixture of Israeli couscous, coloured orzo, split garbanzo beans and quinoa - feel free to substitute your favourite mix)
5 oz green beans, chopped
Salt, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high flame.
  2. Add onion, carrots, pepper and celery. Cook 7-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic, ginger and prange zest, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in broth, orange juice, tomatoes, tomato paste, curry, cumin, saffron, and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in chickpeas, grain blend and green beans, cover and simmer 15 minutes, until beans are tender.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 198.4
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 872.9 mg
Total Carbs: 37.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.8 g
Protein: 6.6 g

The couscous and orzo in my grain blend add two unique pasta shapes, perfect to send into Presto Pasta Nights! It's being hosted this week by Susan who writes The Well-Seasoned Cook.


  1. wow that is what i would love for lunch today, on this cold rainy May day in Portland oregon.

  2. That soup looks amazing! I'm always in the market for a good new soup to try. I was just at Epcot, sampling a lot of the foods. Morocco was the best - you have to try their mint tea or some of their frozen drinks. I have some pics on my blog.

    Great to "meet" you during the CA Milk webinar!

  3. Great post and very tasty soup - it's comforting, just to read the ingredients. Thanks for sharing your dish with Presto Pasta Nights.

    May I join you on your next virtual trip abroad?

  4. I've got a thing for Morocco, too.

    Gorgeous soup! I've not seen colored orzo - will have to track it down.

    Thanks, Sarah, for your contribution to PPN!

  5. Your soup sounds so good! I love the Moroccan flavors, in fact, just made a Chicken Tajine.


Thanks for the feedback!