Infused with the warmth of Ras el Hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) and the sweetness of butternut squash, this comforting soup is like a bear hug for your tastebuds. Lentils make each spoonful silky and substantial. Garnish with your favourite toppings, such as roasted chickpeas, cilantro, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, coconut chips or crumbled feta. Leftover soup tends to thicken; reheat with some additional broth (or water) to thin as needed.
About Ras el Hanout
Ras el Hanout is a fragrant and warming mix of spices used in North African cooking, especially Moroccan. Translated from Arabic, it means “head of the shop,” suggesting it should be made with the best spices available. Each family or shop will have its own unique mixture of spices. Ras el Hanout typically contains turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and cloves. Formulas can sometimes include more exotic components, like dried rosebuds and ash berries.
In the kitchen: Use as a rub for meats, add to soups and stews, toss with popcorn, sprinkle on roasted cauliflower, use to season grains, mix into burgers.
Ras el Hanout Shopping List
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Not every product sold by every company listed is gluten-free or allergy-friendly. Read ingredient labels carefully. When in doubt, confirm ingredients directly with the manufacturer.
More Spice-Centric Recipes
Contributing chef Matthew Kadey, RD is a registered dietitian and food writer. He is author of The Muffin Tin Chef (Ulysses Press), The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook (Ulysses Press) and Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure (VeloPress).Yields 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout
- 3 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash
- 1 cup uncooked red lentils
- 4 cups gluten-free vegetable broth, more as needed
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- Juice of 1/2 lime
1Heat oil in a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and salt; cook until onion is softened and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add carrots; heat 3 minutes. Add garlic; heat 1 minute. Place tomato paste and Ras el Hanout in pan and heat 1 minute.
2Add butternut squash, lentils and broth to pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until squash and lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
3Place contents of pan, coconut milk and lime juice in a blender container and process until smooth. Alternatively, add coconut milk and lime juice to the pan and puree soup using an immersion blender. If soup is too thick for your liking, blend in additional broth.
Ras el Hanout Recipe
PREP: 20 minutes
This fragrant spice blend is used in North Africa. If you can’t find it in local stores, mix up your own version. Store it in an airtight container at room temperature (away from light) up to 2 months.
1.5 teaspoons coriander seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds to skillet and heat until seeds are aromatic and slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes, shaking pan often.
2. Transfer seeds to a spice mill, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and let cool. Finely crush seeds.
3. Place all other ingredients in a bowl. Add crushed seeds and mix until ingredients are thoroughly combined.
TIP: If you’re grinding whole spices and coffee in the same machine, grind some rice kernels to a powder after removing the ground spices. The rice will absorb the residual seasonings.