Stews for Succot

‘Stews and soups are neighbors that share a balcony’ – Mollie Katzen, ‘The Heart of the Plate.’

Pesto-topped chickpea and tomato soup is between a soup and a stew. (photo credit: JONATHAN LOVEKIN)
Pesto-topped chickpea and tomato soup is between a soup and a stew.
(photo credit: JONATHAN LOVEKIN)
For dinner in the succa, a one-pot main course with a variety of vegetables is ideal.
Adding plenty of vegetables to the entrée contributes different flavors, textures and colors and thus enhances both the pleasure of eating and the meal’s nutrition. Serving an abundance of produce also fits with the theme of Succot, “the harvest holiday.” Such a dish can be a stew or a soup, meat-based or vegetarian.
A good choice is Spanish chicken with peppers and tomatoes. To make this dish, Claudia Roden, author of The Food of Spain, cooks the vegetables separately, as a fritada, by frying chopped onions in olive oil, adding chopped garlic and strips of sweet peppers, and simmering tomatoes in the mixture. She then browns chicken pieces in olive oil, stews them with white wine and smoked meat, and adds the tomato- pepper sauce. (See recipe.) “Stews and soups are neighbors that share a balcony,” wrote Mollie Katzen in The Heart of the Plate. “ ... Any soup can be called a stew if the liquid reduces and the result becomes thick, and any stew can be turned into a soup if a matching, delicious stock is added.”
For her curried cauliflower stew, Katzen sautés onions with fresh ginger, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and salt, adds garlic and ground spices, and cooks cauliflower florets and carrot pieces in the savory mixture. She finishes the stew with yogurt, chickpeas and toasted cashews. (See recipe.) When Katzen makes Tuscan-style white bean soup flavored with fresh rosemary and garlic, she enlivens it by adding fresh spinach leaves towards the end and notes that you can serve it topped with slow-roasted tomatoes. You can also turn such a soup into a traditional Tuscan bean and vegetable stew called ribollita by baking the extra soup with stale bread, then slowly cooking the mixture with sliced onions and olive oil. Katzen perks up her ribollita with carrots, cabbage and kale, and notes you can also add diced tomatoes, chopped zucchini, chard or fennel.
Tuscan ribollita also inspired the chickpea, tomato and bread soup made by Yotam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty. After sautéing onions, fennel, carrots and celery in olive oil, Ottolenghi makes a soup base by adding tomatoes, white wine, vegetable stock and fresh herbs. At the end he adds chickpeas and baked bread cubes to the dish, which he describes as “somewhere between a soup and a vegetable stew.”
With its topping of pesto and shredded fresh basil, the easy-to-make soup becomes a lively holiday entrée, just right for lunch in the succa. (See recipe.)
The writer is the author of the award-winning book, Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.
This recipe is from The Food of Spain. “You can use sweet red peppers or green ones, which provide a more peppery flavor, or both,” wrote author Claudia Roden.
“The chicken and the sauce are cooked separately and come together at the end.” Roden adds smoked meat along with the white wine; if you like, you can add 150 grams (about 5 ounces) smoked goose, cut in thin strips.
Makes 6 servings
❖ 1 medium onion, chopped
❖ 6 Tbsp. olive oil
❖ 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
❖ 4 sweet red or green peppers (or a combination), cored, seeded and cut into wide strips
❖ 700 gr. (1½ pounds) tomatoes peeled and chopped
❖ Salt and pepper
❖ 1 tsp. sugar
❖ 1 large chicken (about 2 kg. or 4½ pounds), cut into 6 pieces
❖ ½ cup dry white wine
Fry the onion in 3 Tbsp. of the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until onion begins to color. Add the garlic and peppers and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar and simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce is much reduced and jammy.
Meanwhile, brown the chicken pieces lightly in the remaining 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet, sprinkling with salt and pepper and turning them over once. Pour in the wine and cook, covered, over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes; remove the breasts when done, after about 15 minutes, and transfer to a plate, then return them to the pan when the legs are done. Add the tomato and pepper sauce and heat through.
This recipe is from The Heart of the Plate. “If you are accustomed to low-fat yogurt, that will work fine,” wrote author Mollie Katzen, “but consider using whole-milk yogurt for a richer taste.” If you like, add chopped fresh spinach just before stirring in the yogurt. You can top the stew with sliced ripe cherry tomatoes, torn cilantro leaves or golden raisins. For extra flavor, you can drizzle it with pomegranate molasses or chili oil.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
❖ 1 to 2 Tbsp. peanut, coconut, canola or grapeseed oil
❖ 2 cups minced red or yellow onion (1 large)
❖ 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
❖ 2 tsp. mustard seeds
❖ 1 tsp. cumin seeds
❖ ¾ tsp. salt, or more to taste
❖ 2 tsp. ground cumin
❖ 1 tsp. turmeric
❖ ½ tsp. each ground cardamom and coriander (optional)
❖ 2 tsp. minced or crushed garlic
❖ 4 medium carrots (about 450 grams or 1 pound total), cut into half circles about 3 mm. ( inch) thick
❖ 2 medium heads cauliflower (about 1.8 kg or 4 pounds total), trimmed and cut into 2.5-cm (1-inch) florets
❖ Up to ¼ cup water (optional)
❖ 1 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
❖ 1 400-gr. (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
❖ Cayenne to taste
❖ 1½ cups cashews, lightly toasted
❖ Cooked brown basmati rice or other brown rice
Place a soup pot, large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat for about a minute. Add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, ginger, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and ½ tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent and the spices begin to snap. Add the ground spices and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring often, for another 5 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and carrots with another ¼ tsp. salt, stirring until the vegetables become coated with the good stuff in the pan. (If the mixture becomes dry, add water 1 Tbsp. at a time.) Cover and cook over medium- low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces and your taste in vegetable texture.
Gently stir in the yogurt and chickpeas, mixing until thoroughly combined. Taste to adjust the salt and add cayenne to taste. Serve in the cashews just before serving.
Serve hot or warm over rice.
This recipe is from Plenty. Author Yotam Ottolenghi notes that you can reduce or increase the amount of liquid to achieve the consistency you prefer.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
❖ 1 large onion, sliced
❖ 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
❖ About ½ cup olive oil
❖ 1 large carrot, peeled, cut lengthways in half and sliced
❖ 3 celery sticks, sliced
❖ 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
❖ 1 cup white wine
❖ A 400-gr. (14-ounce) can tomatoes, preferably Italian plum, juice reserved
❖ 1 Tbsp. chopped oregano
❖ 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
❖ 1 Tbsp. thyme leaves
❖ 2 bay leaves
❖ 2 tsp. sugar
❖ 4½ cups vegetable stock
❖ Salt and black pepper
❖ 2 large slices stale sourdough bread (about 160 gr. or 5.5 ounces), crust removed
❖ 400 gr. (14 ounces) freshly cooked or canned chickpeas
❖ 4 Tbsp. basil pesto
❖ Handful of shredded basil leaves (optional, for serving)
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 3 Tbsp. of the oil and sauté on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.
Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the herbs, sugar, stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, break the bread into rough chunks with your hands. Toss with 2 Tbsp. oil and some salt and scatter in a roasting pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until thoroughly dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.
About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the end of a rolling pin; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.
Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto in the center, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil, if you like.