Castilian Garlic Soup


Castilian Garlic Soup

I love this soup, because I am in love with both peasant food and offensive flavors.

There are couple ways you can go with this soup. Straight up traditional peasant recipes are just some garlic cloves cooked in olive oil, with water, tons of paprika, and stale bread. This lovely sounding recipe from New Mediterranean uses lots more garlic, and fancies it up a little with sherry and saffron, and floated garlic toasts. I like the technique of mashing the garlic cloves into the broth. Either way, this is most often made with eggs, either stirred in egg-drop soup style or poached on top.

I went with the more peasanty one (although I want to try the fancy version). It’s vegetarian, and forgoes delicate saffron in favor of an obscene amount of paprika for the uncultured tongue, which rises up in clouds and makes the soup a lovely dark red. Also, as it’s eggless, it needed a little something to be heavy enough for a light meal, so I added some chickpeas. We peasants do what we want.

Castilian Garlic Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 heads garlic, peeled, huge cloves chopped in half
1 tbsp paprika
splash of sherry
6 cups vegetable broth
1 can (or two cups cooked) chickpeas

To serve:
croutons: 1-2 pieces bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil, and sea salt, and toasted
nice spritz lemon juice – don’t skip!
chopped parsley

Heat olive oil and garlic on medium/medium lowish heat. Cook very gently, stirring, until they are soft, about 10-15 minutes, being very careful not to brown.

Add paprika and stir for a minute, then add sherry, broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer for several minutes. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

Spoon into a bowl, spritz with lemon juice, and sprinkle parsley and a few croutons.

I cooked rice in leftovers, which turned out delicious. Peasant food or not, there’s something decadent about eating whole cloves of (cooked) garlic.

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea Soup)


Our friend Stephen has mentioned a couple of times this yummy Moroccan soup he makes – chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices. It sounded delicious, and this lazy Sunday Zoeya and I were just hanging around the house so it seemed a great time to try it (I feel much less lazy if I have something simmering on the stove while I’m doing nothing else important).

Harira is traditionally eaten to open fast during Ramadan, but there’s no need to wait until then. This is complete comfort food, with the added bonus of perfuming the whole house with cinnamon – heavenly!


2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
salt & pepper
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp saffron, crumbled
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
heaping cup dried chickpeas – preferably soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp lentils (I used chana dal)
6 cups water or vegetable broth or combo
handful broken vermicelli (or spaghetti in a pinch!)
handful cilantro, chopped
handful parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon
one bunch spinach, roughly chopped

Heat olive oil (medium highish), and add onions, garlic, and ginger, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add all spices, and cook, stirring. Add tomatoes and cook until they start to break down. Add chickpeas, lentils, and broth/water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; simmer until chickpeas are soft, an hour and a half to two hours (during which time your house will smell wonderful).

Add vermicelli (or spaghetti, lame), parsley, and cilantro, and simmer several minutes, until noodles are cooked. At the end, spritz the pot with lemon juice and adjust seasoning (you’ll probably need more salt) and add spinach and cook until wilted.

Serve hot!

By the way, this is my 100th post! Here’s a witchy gypsy song to mark it – play it while you’re cooking this, will definitely set a spicy mood.

Tan Cani by Aloehverah on Grooveshark

Hummus with Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I have ventured back to the kitchen and am very much enjoying cooking again. Unfortunately, my morning-sicky reluctance to cook meat persists. I tried to bake my normally delicious chicken shawarma in the oven so I didn’t have to look at it, and it spitefully turned out dry and tasteless.

Fortunately, the accompanying hummus and cucumber and tomato salad more than made up for it, and the three together tucked inside a warm whole wheat pita made for a tasty meal. I know for sure this little stinker enjoyed it:

I’ve made hummus forever, lazily, from chickpeas in a can. This is the first time I made it from dried chickpeas, and I am never going back. NEVER! So creamy! So flavorful! And with the help of the crockpot, even though they take a lot more time to cook they don’t take a lot more effort.


Note: This made an enormous batch, we will be eating hummus with every meal for a week. Next time I’ll probably split this recipe in two.

2 cups dried chickpeas

To cook:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
water to cover by several inches

To season:
juice of 2 lemons
2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
2/3 c water, more if needed
1/2 c tahini (sesame seed paste)
salt to taste
1/2 c olive oil, plus more to garnish

Combine the dried chickpeas, water, salt and baking soda in the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours, turning up to high in moments of impatience.
Drain and transfer to a food processor. Combine with lemon juice, garlic, water, tahini and salt, thinning with more water if your food processor is having a hard time. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while blending. Serve with warm pita, crisp veggies, as a spread for sandwiches, etc.

This salad is so summery, crisp and refreshing. Sumac is a lemony Middle Eastern spice and can be found in Middle Eastern markets, but if you don’t have any you can substitute the juice of half a lemon or a little extra vinegar.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

1 large cucumber
3 roma tomatoes
small handful of mint
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp sumac

Slice and combine cucumbers and tomatoes. Toss with chopped mint (reserve a little for garnish). Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, sumac and salt and dress salad.