I don’t know about you, but as soon as the temperature starts to turn a little colder and I can see the first few leaves start to turn color on the trees—I don’t care if it’s a hot second after Labor Day, or if the pumpkins aren’t ready and the fall solstice hasn’t arrived yet (it’s September 22nd this year, FYI)—it’s my shameless cue to start getting into “fall mode.”
Out come the cozy, oversized hoodies and sweaters to wear with jeans; the Halloween decorations start to unearth themselves from boxes in the basement, ready to be hung sometime towards the end of September; and soup or stew gets put back on my dinner menu at least once a week. As a matter of fact, today is perfect fall weather where I am, too; it’s currently around 62° F and it may even drop below 50° F tonight. Talk about the perfect weather for baking and soup making.
This Middle Eastern-inspired stew has been one of my favorite vegetarian recipes for a while, probably ever since I started a vegetarian (or pescatarian, mostly) diet in high school. I continued being vegetarian/pescatarian up until about two years ago, when I started incorporating chicken and other lean meats back into my diet. Regardless of your food preferences, though, this is a recipe that I have found both meat eaters and veggies enjoy all the same.
This is supposed to be a hearty stew, so don’t chop the vegetables too fine. I stick to a medium dice on most of the vegetables and cut the carrots into half-moons about 1/4 inch thick. Once cooked down, everything turns out about the size of the chickpeas and perfectly bite-sized. If the mixture gets too thick as it cooks, add more stock or water. (I prefer to use reduced sodium or no sodium stock so I can control the salt, but use whatever you have.)
Maybe it’s a given, but I always drain and rinse chickpeas or other beans before adding them to a recipe. I heard that chickpea liquid, aquafaba, can be whipped into a frothy, egg white-like replacement that can be used in cocktails, desserts, and other things. I’ve yet to try it, myself, but maybe you want to save it for that use rather than discarding when you drain your chickpeas. (The Minimalist Baker has an excellent all-vegan guide to using aquafaba, too, if you’re interested to explore the idea some more.) At any rate, I don’t add any of the packing liquid from the cans to what I’m cooking.
Finally, I almost-always add spices to taste, erring on the side of spicy when I cook for Dave and me, mild-to-medium when I’m cooking for larger groups. These are approximate spice measurements that you can adjust to your liking, too. I started adding the spices to what I’m making along with the vegetables so they can get some contact with the oil to extract more flavor and cook a little longer. Toasted cashews are an excellent addition, but omit them if someone in your family has a food allergy or if you just don’t like the taste.
This gets better as it sits a few days in the fridge. It also freezes well, too, for up to 3 months or more when packed in freezer-safe quart containers.
Serves about 8-10
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
3 medium carrots, cut into half-moons
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
4 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed (from one 32oz can or two 16oz cans)
2 cups diced tomatoes (from one 16oz can)
1/2 small can tomato paste
4 cups unsalted or reduced sodium vegetable stock (from one box, or quart, of stock)
1 cup water
1/4 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/4 cup toasted cashews (optional)
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Olive oil, for sauteeing
Salt and pepper, to taste
For serving (optional): green herb of your choice, like parsley; yogurt; rice or couscous
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a pan and saute garlic and onion until translucent. Add bell pepper, celery, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Add spices and salt and pepper to taste. Saute another 5-10 minutes until vegetables are starting to get tender.
Add chickpeas, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and water. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, cover, and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Before you’re ready to serve, add raisins and cashews, if using, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Eat plain or serve over a bed of couscous or rice, topped with a spoonful of yogurt and herbs, if desired.