Friday Fun: Food Fiesta

We're back by popular demand!

And to start off with, a simple soup. Because it feels like winter will never end here. And because I've been lazy with experimenting. And you can't go wrong with soup.

This does take longer than most of the previous dishes, but a large part of that doesn't involve you doing much.


Onion-and-Couscous Soup

Time required:
About 45 minutes.

Keep ready (to serve 2 people):
Butter & oil, both 1 tbsp
Garlic, 1 plump* clove, crushed
Onion, 1-2 large ones, finely sliced
Coriander, cumin & turmeric powder
Tomato paste, 1 tsbp
Birds-eye chili, just the one, deseeded and finely chopped
Cinnamon, one medium stick
Stock, vegetable or chicken, 1 litre
Couscous**, a fifth to a quarter of a cup
Spring onions, handful, chopped
Coriander leaves, handful
Salt & pepper, to taste

On a medium-low heat, brown (but do not burn) the onions and garlic in the butter and oil, stirring occasionally. Depending on the type of hob you use, this should take about 10-15 minutes. It has to go a nice deep brown.

Turn the heat down, then add the spices, the chilli, the cinnamon, and the tomato paste and stir for about five minutes, so that the spices really release their essence. Add the stock, boil, then nearly-fully cover it and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Then add the couscous and spring onions and let simmer for another five minutes. Season. Garnish with coriander.

Serve with toasted, buttered pitta bread.

Why you should try this:
It's a cold evening. Your friends and family are making snide remarks about the inbuilt shock absorbers you're adding to your body. You cannot stand the thought of another greasy meal from outside, or another sandwich (heathen!), or anything heavy that will make you feel like a ship's anchor. And you're unsociable enough not to care about what your breath smells like.

This is the dish for you.

It's just heavy enough to fill you up, without making you waddle around the house. It's just spicy enough to kick your nerves awake without roasting them where they lie. And it doesn't need you to shop for more than four things (you do have some spices at home, right?).

Personally, I just love the oily effect of onions and butter on the surface of this soup. And I love couscous.

1. You could try this with red onions, but they tend not to go so brown.

2. You could make this a more filling dish by adding strips of cooked chicken to it. Not shellfish though, doesn't go as well.

3. If you want to make this really filling, add a couple of potatoes to it. Dice them, and add them along with the spices.

* plump. plumpityplumpityplump. plump plomp plooomp. plimp plomp. plump plump pi plump.
** I realise that couscous can be hard to source in some places. Why this should be so is one of life's unfairnesseseseses (or something). So, if you can't get hold of some, use pearl barley instead.


brinda said...

Many thanks. One shall try this when one has a working kitchen! AND it's summer here and getting to be as hot as hell.
you do have some spices at home, right? Wrong. BUT I managed to find couscous. And I have an onion. And salt and pepper. I shall have to go shopping, I see

??! said...

You found couscous in India? However did you manage that?

Also, it doesn't really matter that it's a hot soup. All our food is hot anyway.

brinda said...

One of the few advantages of living in Delhi, I suspect, is the fact that you can get otherwise impossible-to-get food... the other advantage is that you get to walk a gazillion km hunting for an auto and so burn off all the fat you get from said exotic food.