You can file this one under “stuff I actually make with frequency.” Most of the time I just have an idea in an offhand sort of way and it ends up here. Then there’s that pile of old reliables that I make all the time, without even thinking that maybe they could be awesome and useful for others.
I really wanted the ritual of a leisurely, stew-centered afternoon, just to usher in Fall. The air smells like crushed grape skins and crunchy, slowly-fading leaves at night. I got a new mug for all those hot beverages and our apple tree is just loaded right now.
But on this stew! The first time I had a totally vegan dining experience, I ate something like this. I read “sweet potatoes, warm spices, smoky tomatoes, wilted greens etc etc,” on the menu and knew that I would love it. It was familiar, comforting, a bit new to me in some ways, and it came with a fluffy scoop of grains.
On the menu, this was called “Moroccan Stew.” From some Googling and poking around, I am gathering that the flavours and texture were inspired by harira, a tomato-based soup with chickpeas, lentils and a warm mixture of spices that includes cinnamon. I will note that every recipe I read for harira involved a thickening agent such as eggs or flour, and often some type of meat. I think the inspiration for the restaurant dish that I’m recalling was in flavour profile only. If you like, you can read more about harira and its association with Ramadan on the Taste of Marco site.
Shortly after this dinner, I was sold on the whole plant-based way of life. Then I figured out how to make this beautifully spiced vegetable and chickpea stew home! I add chopped dates and a little lemon zest, go heavy on the warm spices–the cinnamon is the best part–and I utilize one of my fave pantry items: fire roasted crushed tomatoes. Getting real cozy here!
If you like this stew, I bet you’ll also enjoy this sweet potato salad that’s inspired by the same flavours!
Morocco-Inspired Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, small dice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 cups chopped greens of choice , kale, spinach, collards etc
- chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro
- finely grated lemon zest
- cooked grain of choice , such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, or couscous
- I like to slowly cook the onions and spices out in the oil before I add everything else, almost stewing them in a way. The raw-ness of the spice goes away and the onions almost “melt” into the soup. If your onions are browning too fast during this process, just lower the heat a bit.
- Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and lower heat until they are sizzling kind of quietly. Once the onions are a bit soft and translucent, add the cinnamon, cumin, coriander and chili flakes. Slowly sauté and stir this mix until the onions are really, really soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the chopped dates, carrots and sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables in the spices and oil. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add the chopped yellow peppers and chickpeas and stir the soup. Season the whole thing again with salt and pepper. Simmer until the yellow peppers are tender and the sweet potatoes are quite soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the greens to the pot (and more stock if necessary) and cook for 1 minute, or until just-wilted. Check the soup for seasoning and serve it hot with cooked grains, drizzles of olive oil, lemon zest and chopped herbs.