We Moroccans love squash in every way shape of form, and goodness knows it comes in countless shapes and sizes. They turn up in many Moroccan dishes (Couscous on top of the list). Their spicy sweetness is equally at home in savory dishes (I love Pumpkin Corn Pudding) and in desserts. To the classical pumpkin, which can often be hit or miss inside (sometimes we do want to eat pumpkin, not just make Halloween funny faces with it!), I much prefer the more reliable butternut squash, but my great favorite is kabocha squash (top right in the picture): I love its dense texture and low moisture, and mild sweetness. This soup is totally and naturally vegetarian, has lots of flavors going for it and needs no help from any stock or broth to be delicious. Perfect choice for a Rosh Hashanah Menu!
Don’t worry about peeling the squash: I use it peel and all. The peel dissolves during the cooking, and is actually very thin. The pairing of squash and chick peas is typically Sephardi, and a wonderful pairing, especially when rounded out, as here, with sweet spices. Please do take the trouble of using dried, not canned, chick peas, here: you will taste the difference in the finished dish! Using a hammer makes short work of cutting the squash and many other gigantic vegetables.
- dried chickpeas - 1 cup, soaked overnight in cold water and rinse, reserved
- olive oil - 1/3 cup
- onions - 2 large, quartered
- butternut squash - 1 medium, or 1 medium kabocha squash, about 3.5 lbs, seeded and cut in 1
- water - 3 quarts (12 cups)
- saffron - 2 good pinches
- turmeric - 2 tsp
- ground ginger - 1 tbsp
- salt - to taste
- cinnamon - 1 tbsp
- ground cloves - 1/2 tsp
- nutmeg - 1 pinch
- ground pepper - to taste
- pumpkin seeds - 1/2 cup toasted, optional
Heat the oil in a wide heavy bottom pan. In a food processor, coarsely grind the onions, and add to the skillet. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very dark. Add brown sugar and cook 2 minutes more, stirring. Add the reserved chick peas and all but last 2 ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium low and cook 2 hours. Cream the soup in batches with an immersion blender. Add the ground pepper, and adjust seasonings and texture. Top each serving with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, if desired.