Middle eastern, Tasting

A dish I’d turn vegetarian for…

Er, well, maybe not. That’s a big call. I don’t think I could go without a juicy steak and chips on a Saturday night, or a bacon and egg sarnie after my weekend cycle.

But there are some dishes that when I eat I say “Oooh, this is so good I could become a vegetarian”. One is Masala Dosa, a south Indian crispy pancake filled with a spiced potato curry and served with a number of condiments. It was recently featured on Bam’s Kitchen blog, so check it out. It is yum.

And this pumpkin and chickpea soup is another one of those dishes.

It’s hearty, filling and very tasty. It is the complex, yet subtle spice and textures that make this dish a real stunner. Turns a simple soup into something quite sophisticated.

And it can easily pass as a main meal. This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that was featured in a 2008 Delicious magazine.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • 1 butternut pumpkin, peeled, diced (about 2cm), seeds rinsed and reserved
  • 1 tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsely, leaves chopped, stalks finely chopped
  • 2 small red onions, finely chopped (although I used white onions)
  • 1.5L chicken stock
  • 2x 400g can chickpeas, drained (I used 400g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight. But this was way too much, so I made hummus with the leftover. I reckon 200g would be more than enough).
  • 2 tsp each fennel seeds, sesame seeds and poppyseeds
  • 2/3 cup (50g) almond flakes
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • A few springs of fresh mint, leaves chopped
  • Harissa paste (either make your own or shop bought would be fine)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Spread pumpkin on a baking tray. Sprinkle cumin and dried chilli over the pumpkin. Drizzle with olive oil, mix together and roast for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat and pour in a splash of olive oil. Add the celery, garlic, parsley stalks and 2/3 of the onion. Cook gently with a lid on until softened. Drop in the pumpkin and sweat for a few minutes, then pour in the stock. If you are using dried chickpeas, add them now.

Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. If you are using tinned chickpeas, Add them now and simmer for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, dry roast the reserved pumpkin seeds, fennel seeds, sesame, poppy seeds and almonds until coloured all over and you can smell the release of the natural oils of the spices.

Season soup well with sea salt and pepper, then using a stick blender, whiz for a few seconds so it thickens, but there are still some chunky bits. Keep warm while you mix together the lemon zest, parsley and mint leaves. Chop the remaining onion finely, then mix it into the zesty herb mixture.

To serve, put 1/2 tsp harissa paste into each bowl, then ladle over the pumpkin and chickpea soup. Stir each bowl once, then sprinkle with the toasted nuts and seeds, followed by the zesty herb mixture. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.



32 thoughts on “A dish I’d turn vegetarian for…

  1. This looks great! I really love hearty soups. And I basically add chickpeas to everything (I’m more of an herbivore than a carnivore, haha). I love the color of the soup too – it’s rustic and comforting looking. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Masala Dosa, yes! Steak sambo or bacon & eggs, yes! I love an eatery in surry hills which does the most amazing Thali plates and dosa’s called Maya Masala. Well worth the trip!

    Texturally I love the look of your soup. It has all those wonderful crunchy bits and smooth, silky soup. Looking perfect for winter.

    • Maya sweet shop on Cleveland street. Love it! Used to pass there on way back from work and pop in for tea once a week. Formica tables, strip lighting, clean as a whistle and amazing food. Samosas are fab too. Brought back memories!

    • A souped up super soup! The herbs and seeds add something quite refreshing and different. If all veggie food was like this, I’d think seriously about converting (well, for a minute anyway).
      Thanks for commenting.

  3. thewhitetrashgourmet says:

    Had a vegetarian pizza tonight but then followed it with bacon maple popcorn so I guess that trend is right out the window. Soup looks great and now I’m craving Indian food! I’m a mess.

  4. Looks amazing, I love pumpkin, but never tried it paired with chickpeas! It’s a definite on my list when the weather starts too cool down….can’t even imagine eating anything hot in this heat! Great picture too!

    • Defo a cooler climate dish, bit not a full on winter dish. Maybe autumn. There’s a bit of life in this soup that is zingier than winter. But a little heavy for summer. Colour? Like Naranja?
      Sorry, it’s my favourite spanish word and I’ve been dying to squeeze it in ever since I stumbled across your blog. Tenious I know, but a fab word. Rather like paraplui in french.Another fave.
      Thanks for the comment and compliment. Much appreciated.
      Hasta luego (too much red wine tonight)

      • Hahahaha!!!! Wouldn’t you love a naranja paraplui? Absolutely a autumn dish, when squash comes into season! Enjoy the wine and the rest of your saturday!

    • Will do! On cloud nine after wiggo and team sky won in style.
      Not often an Englishman can celebrate a sporting achievement (even tho technically I am now Aussie). I am confused, Again. Religion and cultural identity. No idea. Need. Bed. Bye.

  5. Dear Andy, Thanks so much for the mention. This soup sounds so yummy. Believe it or not I have not tried harissa paste but most recently found it at the grocery store here, so I very much want to try your recipe. This is a dish I would turn vegetarian for in a heart beat! Take Care, BAM

    • Nay problem bam, every time I read your blog I imagine myself in hong kong again. It’s a nice feeling to read it. and masala diss really is one of my fave dishes of all time.
      The soup is yum. Give it a go. It’s jamie, so ad lib.

  6. It’s only breakfast-time but that looks phenomenal! I cannot wait until butternut is in season! And thanks for stopping by my site, and bringing me to yours. As an avid cook, I am excited to exploring more of your posts!

  7. Yum! This looks beyond savory. Thank you so much for the recipe! I don’t know if it technically would be vegetarian with chicken stock, but as it is so highly seasoned and spicy, I bet vegetable stock could be substituted. How hot is it with the red chili and harissa paste? It sure looks beautiful, perfect for company. Can’t wait to try it! ~ Lily

    • Hi Lily,
      It would work just fine with vegetable stock. As far heat, you can control it by putting a tiny bit of Harrisa in. I put in about a teaspoon per bowl and that was more than enough. I could feel the heat. You can leave the harissa out. Leftovers I ate without and it was just as yummy. The dried chilli adds a little heat but not a lot. It’s mainly the harissa.
      Thanks for dropping by. And give the soup ago. It’s lovely.

  8. This soup sounds great. I’ll bet you’d like my Vietnamese soup with squash, garbanzos, coconut, and red curry, too & perhaps some more of my other dishes would also encourage vegetarianism? ;) Thanks for your visit to The Nutrition Doctor is In the Ktichen. Cheers, PK

    • No problem. Love your blog and very interested to see you’ve trained as an epidemiologist. I have a background in public health, mainly behaviour side of things. I worked in cancer NGOs and then did my masters in public health. I’m now in marketing. Go figure! Looking forward to reading more of your blog, especially as I know that you have a strong ethic in evidence. Cheers, Andy

  9. I will definitely try this. I just started noticing kabocha squash has appeared in my local grocery. It’s close to that time of year again where I live. Plus, I love harissa and have never tried it in a soup. The seeds look interesting, too. Yum! Thank you so much for the recipe.

    • The seeds add an interesting texture. It really is a lovely soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
      A word of advice though. I put too much harissa in. You only need a dab.

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