Sephardic New Year Soup

During Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people traditionally eat round foods to symbolize their hopes for a full, complete, well-rounded year to come. This soup marries two perfect round foods– chickpeas and pearl couscous. You may have seen pearl couscous (also sometimes known as Israeli couscous) in the store before and wandered what to do with it. Pearl couscous is much bigger than your standard granular couscous and has the shape and size of Trix cereal. It holds up wonderfully in soup and never gets that bloated, overcooked texture that other pastas can get in soup. The soup is warm, spicy, and fresh—perfect for not just the new year, but for any chilly fall night.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 small leeks, cleaned well and chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 4 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • 4 ripe tomatoes, diced or 1 16oz. can tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 large cube Telma (an Israeli brand of bullion) or 1 tablespoon any other kind of chicken or vegetable bullion
  • 1 ½ cups chickpeas (drained from a can okay)
  • 1 cup pearl couscous (also called Israeli couscous)
  • ½ lemon

Heat one teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high heat in a heavy stockpot. Add the onions, leeks, and carrot and sauté until starting to caramelize. Add garlic, chopped cilantro, mint, cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes (if using) and sauté until aroma begins to arise. Add tomatoes, bullion, 3 cups water, and chickpeas. Turn heat to high until it starts to boil. Add couscous, lower heat, and simmer until couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve piping hot, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.

Serves 6-8 as a first course or 4-6 as a light entrée.


About Michelle

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