The more it snows in Colorado, the better it is for agricultural support, the recreation community and our precious albeit beleaguered Colorado River. I grew up in Iowa, a state bordered on the west by the meandering Missouri, North America’s longest river, and the east, by Ol’Man River himself. (There’s a song.) Let’s agree it’s been my good fortune that my neck-of-the-woods has always been located ‘where a river runs through it.’
During the past two weeks I’ve opened my eyes most mornings to more snow. Of course the scene is magical. It’s also cold, really cold, more than normal cold. You know what’s an antidote for snowy, frigid weather? SOUP. In particular, Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea, Lentil and Noodle Soup. Heads up, vegetarians. Or spread the love to meat eaters at your table by adding mini-meatballs.
This satisfying, flavorful, spicy soup is everything. It’s ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and saffron (optional). It’s chickpeas, red lentils and angel hair pasta. Oh yes, do not pass Go without a lemon. It’s essential. And what I discovered after letting it simmer all week on my stovetop is it only gets better with age. You may need to add liquid. Glance through the recipe. Make it work for you. Resistance is futile.
PARIS, Tu me manques. (I miss you.)
A year ago today my daughter, Melissa, flew to Paris to spend a week with me. For the past several years I’ve been spending a few winter months in the City of Lights. Melissa had never visited France. I now know there are few greater joys than showing your daughter Paris for the first time.
Before she left Paris, we’d already planned our 2021 Paris week. Melissa and daughter Clara, for her high school graduation present, would fly to Paris for a week. Emma, a college junior who would be studying in Greece for the semester, would join us.
When I waved goodbye to Missy last March 4th, we had no idea I would be following 10 days later due to new Covid travel restrictions. Nor did we know I wouldn’t see her for the following twelve months and still counting. Let me be clear. I have nothing but gratitude for the good health and well-being my family has enjoyed the past year. We are the lucky ones. No pity parties at our households.
I decided, however, I could relive the memories of that fabulous week either with sadness or joy. I came down on the side of joy, calories, l’apéro (cocktail hour), photographs and Piaf. I believe in make-believe. Of course, if all else fails, there is always ZOOM.
Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea and Noodle Soup by Dorie Greenspan, Everyday Dorie, The Way I Cook
MINI MEATBALLS: (Add meatballs or make it vegetarian.)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1-pound ground beef or turkey to form into 18 to 20 small meatballs
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped, rinsed and patted dry
2 celery stalks with leaves, finely sliced
3 garlic clove, chopped
2-3 TBS ground ginger
1 TBS fine sea salt or to taste
11/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
11/2 Tsp ground turmeric
11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp cumin
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Large pinch of saffron threads (this is pricey so it’s optional)
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
2 quarts unsalted vegetable or chicken stock or broth.
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas drain and rinse
3/4 cup red lentils, split
1/4-pound thin or angel hair pasta, broken into short pieces
1 or 2 lemons, cut into wedges or slices
- Place oil in large skillet.
- Season meat with salt and black pepper; form into 18 to 20 small meatballs.Precook meatballs: Brown over medium heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, browning all sides. Set meatballs aside. Pour out leftover oil and swipe clean with a paper towel
3. Over medium low heat melt butter to cook onion, garlic and celery for about 4 minutes or when vegetables start to soften. Add spices, stir to blend with vegetables for 30 seconds before stirring in tomatoes and half of parsley. If using, return the meatballs and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes covered.
4. Add broth or water to the pot. Increase the heat. Bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to simmer. Add drained chickpeas, partially cover pot, let simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid as needed.
5. Add lentils, cook partially covered for 20 minutes more until softened. Season to taste.
6. Before serving, stir in broken pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Then stir in the remainder of parsley or cilantro.
7. Lemon juice is traditional to serve but you may also add it in the kitchen or serve with lemon slices at the table.
About the Recipe, from Dorie: The Moroccan soup/stew is simple and so satisfying and like many dishes, it’s better when served the next day. Its roots are in Northern Africa and the spices add an exotic and delicious flavor. This Hariri traditional dish has several add-ins of pasta, chickpeas, and lentils.The combined flavors are almost magical when blended together.