Prep 6 hrs
Cook 2 hrs 25 mins
This thick, hearty soup is adapted from a more complex dish that includes several kinds of beans and a spherical type of couscous called muhammas, for vermicelli is substituted. This gets better overnight, but don’t add the pasta or the fresh chopped cilantro and mint until shortly before serving. You may need to thin out with water. It will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. In spring and summer, substitute 1/2 pound diced zucchini for the squash. Simmer the zucchini for no longer than 30 minutes.
- 1 cup chickpeas (picked over and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 1 quart water)
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 dried red chili pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 4 plump garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 (28 ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
- 1 1⁄2 quarts water
- 1⁄2 lb winter squash, peeled and diced
- 1 -2 teaspoon harissa or 1⁄8-1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄2 cup vermicelli
- 2 tablespoons chopped of fresh mint
- lemon wedge, for serving (optional)
- Drain the soaked chick peas and set aside. Tie half the cilantro sprigs into a bundle with the dried red chili, and chop the rest. Set aside the chopped cilantro.
- Heat the oil in a large bean pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt, the garlic, paprika, and turmeric. Stir together for about a minute, until fragrant, and add the tomatoes, and their juice. Cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and the mixture is fragrant. Add the beans and water and bring to a boil. Add the cilantro bundle, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 1 hour. Add the squash, a generous amount of salt, and the harissa or cayenne, and continue to simmer for another hour. Taste and adjust salt. Add the vermicelli and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove the cilantro bundle. Stir in the remaining cilantro and the mint, adjust salt and serve. Garnish with lemon wedges.