MIDDLE-EASTERN SPICED SQUASH + BEAN STEW
The news has me a bit emotional lately so all I have to give right now is a warm pot of soup. I have always been empathetic and emotional but being a mother has made me even more so. I can’t help but hear stories about the shooting in Oregon or the refugees and personalize them. My family is not entitled to any sort of safety or protection, as cautious as I try to be, and that scares me to death. All I desire is for my people to be safe and healthy and happy; I’m sure that is what any parent hopes for; and when the story goes otherwise, it reminds you that you must hold onto things loosely. These sort of tragedies happen in an instant and my heart hurts for how fragile this life is.
It was fall around here for about two days. A little rain, I put on slippers, bought squash and made banana bread and soup. It’s going to be 90′ again by the weekend but I can feel the chill creeping in. It’s coming and I am ready. So today, it’s a simple and spiced bowl of soup for the comfort that food can give when there’s not much else you can do.
MIDDLE EASTERN-SPICED SQUASH + BEAN STEW // Serves 6
Adapted from A Change of Appetite by Diana Henry
I changed a couple things here and only because I don’t like to dirty a dish unless it’s absolutely necessary. Diana recommends browning the squash before you put them into the stew to get a golden crust. I find that to be lost when it gets cooked further in a liquid so decided to skip that step. Mind you, I haven’t tried it otherwise and surely she has good reason so brown that squash if you’re up for it!
Chiles vary widely in heat level depending where you buy them so this is tough to predict. I removed all of the seeds from my chiles so got next to no heat in my finished soup as I knew I’d be sharing it with a toddler. Personal taste, I would leave a few in so do so if you want some spice.
2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 red chiles, seeded and chopped
5 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 3 cups)
3 cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
1 3/4 cups (1 14 oz. can) cooked garbanzo or cannellini beans
juice and zest of one lemon
whole milk yogurt, for garnish
fresh mint, for garnish
toasted sesame or nigella seeds, for garnish
cooked brown rice (and lentils if you wish) for serving
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the coconut oil. Add the onions, carrots and a pinch of salt and saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chiles and tomatoes and cook another five minutes. Stir in the cumin, tomato paste and a few pinches of salt and pepper.
Add the squash and the broth and stir to mix. Turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the squash is softened. Add in the cooked beans (rinsed and drained if using canned) and simmer, uncovered, another 10 minutes to warm through. This should be thick and stew like. Add the lemon zest and juice and taste for seasonings.
Serve your bowls with a scoop of rice (or rice and lentils), the stew, a dollop of yogurt, mint and seeds. I liked a 2:1 ratio of stew to rice and generous with the toppings. Always