Hey there! Today we’re having soup.
It’s a simple tomato soup thickened with couscous, spiked with spices, dolloped with yogurt.
I’m going to level with you – the first bowl didn’t wow me. It was too thin. The couscous seemed like an afterthought. The cumin and thyme competed with one another. So I left the pot on the counter to cool and went out to work on breaking in my new hiking boots (Machu Picchu, here I come!).
But a few hours later, I stuck a spoon in the now cold soup to see if maybe I had missed something. Wow! While it sat, the couscous did its thing. As it absorbed the liquid, it thickened the broth, it united the spices.
I should have known it would all come together. Yotam Ottolenghi wrote the recipe.
And, no, I didn’t forget that it’s the fourth night of Hanukkah. I have two brand new recipes for you to open as you light candles five and six. Here’s a hint – neither of them is fried. (If, however, you can’t wait and do want to fry, check out last year’s sufganiyot.)
Tomato couscous soup
Adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s Plenty. I replaced the semolina with cooked couscous because I had some left over after making a tagine. If you don’t want to make couscous separately, I suspect that you can add uncooked couscous during the last ten minutes of cooking (which is how the recipe directs you to add semolina).
Makes about 3 quarts
– 1 1/2 C cooked couscous (about 3/4 C uncooked)
– 1 medium onion
– 2 stalks celery
– 3 T olive oil
– 1 T cumin
– 2 t coriander
– 1 t thyme
– 1 1/2 t sweet paprika
– 2 T tomato paste
– 1 28-oz canned whole peeled tomatoes
– salt and pepper
– 7 C water
– 1 1/2 t sugar
– 1 lemon for juice
– Greek yogurt (optional)
Make couscous. I’ve had good luck with this method, or just follow the directions on the package. Or add uncooked couscous later.
Chop. Finely chop the onion and celery.
Sauté. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot (I used a 4-quart). Add the onion and celery, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden and soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in spices and tomato paste until incorporated.
Crush. Crush the tomatoes between your fingers into bite sized pieces and add to the pot. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
Simmer. Add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in the cooked (or uncooked) couscous and simmer for another 10 minutes. Cover the pot at this point if you opted for the uncooked couscous. The couscous will absorb some of the liquid, so don’t worry if it starts out looking thin. If the soup gets too thick (more likely if you added uncooked couscous), add water until you get the right consistency.
Serve. Squeeze in the lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper again (I found the soup needed quite a bit of salt). Ladle into bowls and spoon some Greek yogurt on top. Sprinkle with cumin.