Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yes, Soup Weather again! Hlelem a versitile Tunisian Soup is back on the menu.

At the first sign of a cold front in Texas I believe across the United State a loud cheer could be heard coming from this Southern State. Texas had record heat & drought this summer. Hottest, driest, longest since 1885 in fact Wichita Falls had 100 days over 100. As a state it certainly felt like we simmered & stewed all summer long (at times in our own skins...). Salads and lighter cooler meals have been the order of the season for months. This past week when temperatures dropped to freezing overnight it felt like it was okay to drag out the soup pots & dust off the crock pots once again. What is nauseating to think of when it is 109* is downright cheerful when the temperatures seem normal once again. I always feel better when I can make a pot of soup. Earthy, rich & soothing soups make me feel comforted & tend to remind me of soups my mother would make when I was a kid. This is a traditional Tunisian soup inspired by Martha Rose Shulman's version from her Mediterranean Harvest recipes. Some of you know this is not my first post of Hlelem,  I've actually made it before with all the beans however I'm on a eating lifestyle now which departs from some of the legumes & pastas so I've changed things up a bit. For vegetarian diets this is good with vegetable broth, for those who want to add a lean protein; I expanded this soup on day 2 with lean ground meat. Enjoy & be soothed as I was.
Hlelem soup hits the spot on a cool fall evening.

Hlelem (Tunisian Vegetable Soup)

yields 2 quarts

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/4 cup celery stalk, large outer veins trimmed, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, seeded, diced
3 cups fresh or canned tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1 quart chicken broth
6 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup canned chickpeas, drained*check below for my new substitution without legumes
7 cups Swiss chard leaves, stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces, leaves shredded, lightly packed
1/2 cup angel hair pasta or fideo, dry, approx. 1/3 c.
1/2 tablespoon red curry paste or Harissa
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup radishes, grated
wedges of lime or lemon

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid with the broth, reserved bean liquid, and the tomato paste to the pot. Slowly stir getting the tomato past lumps worked out or till well blended and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Approximately 10 minutes before serving, add chickpeas or alternative veggies such as butternut squash*, the Swiss chard, and the pasta. Simmer until the pasta and chard stems are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the Harissa and stir until blended. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped parsley, radish & serve with a wedge of lemon or lime.

*I added 1 cup diced butternut squash instead of the chick peas although the chick peas are more traditional in this soup.  Also I would now omit the fideo pasta to cut out the gluten. You can add whatever vegetables are local or seasonal. Rutabaga & Sweet potato are nice winter/fall substitutions.The radishes as a garnish add a nice zesty punch.

A spicy addition to Hlelem Soup this is very similar to Red Curry paste.
Harissa comes in small cans and can be found in a lot of supermarkets and Mediterranean groceries. It is a Tunisian hot sauce or paste usually made with hot chiles, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil.  I also added lean ground meat the second day to this soup.

For my previous Hlelem recipe in the Crock pot please check here for my previous blog post.


Rebecca from Chow and Chatter said...

wow what a great soup I need to use harissa more :_)

mjskit said...

This soup looks like it would really warm you up inside and out. Sounds delicious!

Dee said...

Rebecca~thank you, Harissa has so many possibilities, I've even seen a recipe for making it myself but it is so concentrated & the cost is relatively inexpensive. I may have to try making it sometime though!

Mjskit~thank you, it really does hit the spot!

Pattie T. said...

This sounds delicious. The radishes are a bit surprising as I've never had them as an ingredient in soup, but this sure looks to be worth trying. And, of course, you always make everything look so beautiful and appealing.

Angie's Recipes said...

That looks warming, soothing and delectable! Gotta cook some soup later for the dinner too.

Dee said...

Pattie~As far as the radishes as a topping/garnish; I copied that idea from a restaurant in Torreon, Coah. the peppery flavor is a nice addition to the tomato based soups & stews.
Angie~I am imagining you are used to some wonderful full bodied soups during those German Winters you enjoy over there.

Abby said...

My husband is a soup fiend! He'll even eat it in hot, sultry, Southern summers though. Really!

Jackie said...

HEY!! You didn't tell me you cooked this!!! I would've liked to try some ;)

Dee said...

Abby~I love soup & mean "really" love soup but this heat this summer had me about to wilt in the heat on a daily basis even if I had an occasional bowl of Pho.

Jackie~Next pot of soup I make you of course are invited!