Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Winter's coming, way too soon...



I reckon trees know when the cold's about to hit. Autumn so far has been mild - sparkling blue days where I still break a sweat walking to uni - yet the trees have suddenly started loosing all their leaves in anticipation of what's to come. In saying that, I have seen quite a few confused plants out there though - half summery green leaves, half deep red, burgundy leaves, while others didn't even put up a fight and are completely bare already.

...Thus I'm mirroring nature and getting myself ready with this Lebanese soup (aaaand there's the tie in) which embraces the best of early autumnal produce and is traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Balls of cracked wheat and sweet roasted pumpkin are poached in a broth chock-a-block with borlotti beans, chickpeas, sauteed onions and superpowered silverbeet. Yalla habibi!

Lebanese Soup - Kibbet il roheb (Monk's kibbeh soup)

adapted by Nouha Taouk from 'Whispers from a Lebanese Kitchen'

2 x 400g can of chickpeas and borlotti beans
3 litres of vegetable stock or water (I use half and half)
1 spanish onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a bunch of silverbeet, washed and coarsley chopped
1 lemon
for the balls;
200g fine burghul/cracked wheat (I also added whole buckwheat because I ran out of burghul!)
1 brown onion, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin seeds
500g baked and then mashed butternut pumpkin
1 tablespoon chopped mint and parsley
1/2 a teaspoon chilli flakes (optional) 1
10g plain flour Salt and pepper

For the balls, cover the burghul and buckweat in warm water for about 30 minutes until soft. Drain thoroughly to remove excess liquid. In a pan lightly saute the onions in a tinsy bit of olive oil - get them really nice and brown slash a bit burnt for some nice flavour. To the drained burghul/buckwheat add the already pre-cooked baked pumpkin, salt and pepper, mint and parsley, cumin and then finally the onions once cooked. Mix together well and add in the flour. Knead the mixture lightly until combined and you have an even consistency - it should feel firm, not sticky. If it's still sticky add some more flour. Grab a teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a little ball about 2cm in diameter (but who's counting, really?). Place to the side. Continue rolling until all the mixture is used up.

Now get the soup going. Lightly saute off the spanish onion and garlic in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When the onions are golden and translucent, add in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. When the soup is boiling, add in the chickpeas and borlotti beans and slowly slot in the pumpkin burghul balls. When all the balls have been added, stir the soup occassionally to make sure they don't stick together. After about 5 minutes add in the chopped up silverbeet and stir to combine to help wilt the leaves. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Just before serving, finish the soup with a generous squeeze of fresh lemon. Fini! Serve with crumbled feta if desired (which I'm sure you do..)





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