Moroccan Store Cupboard Soup

This soup is loosely based on the Moroccan harira soup, traditionally served during Ramadan. It’s a great recipe for finally using up some of those tins and packages that have been sitting in your cupboard for ages – or for when you find you have no fresh vegetables in the house – at a pinch, even the onion, carrot and celery could be replaced with a teaspoon of bouillon.

The soup is thickened by the blended vegetables and chickpeas, creating a rich and hearty broth. It’s a neat trick – one I’m sure you’ll use again.

Serves 2

½ red onion (about 60g)
½ carrot (about 60g)
1 stalk celery (about 60g)
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground turmeric
Small pinch saffron (optional)
200g tinned peeled plum tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
240g cooked chickpeas
40g pasta (eg angel hair or spaghetti)
50g puy lentils
Lemon (optional)

Cook the puy lentils as instructed on the packet. Finely dice the red onion, carrot and celery. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and gently sauté the vegetables for 15-20 minutes, until they’re beginning to soften. If you’re using saffron, steep the threads in a splash of boiling water.

Finely chop the garlic and add to the saucepan when the vegetables are soft. Fry for a minute, then add the ground spices and fry for another minute. Add the tomato paste and tinned tomatoes to the pan – chopping or mushing them as you do so – along with their water, the cooked chickpeas and 350ml water. Season generously with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta as instructed on the packet. Add the saffron and its water to the soup.

Ladle out a third of the mixture into a blender and blitz, then return to the pan. Add the cooked pasta and lentils and heat through. Add more water if it’s too thick. Season to taste and squeeze in a little lemon juice, if desired, before serving.