Rosh Hashanah Seven-Vegetable Soup

Sopa de Siete Verduras

In her book Marrakech la rouge: les juifs de la medina, Helen Ganz Perez reminisces about the soupe aux sept legumes that was part of her family’s Rosh Hashanah tradition. The seven “vegetables” are onion, pumpkin, vegetable marrow, zucchini, Swiss chard, chickpeas, and quince. I could not get over how closely it resembles the Andalusían olla gitana, or gypsy stew, which uses pears instead of quince. I suspect that the “gypsy” title was added as a cover, after the Jews had left Spain and the recipe remained in the culinary pipeline. Today in Spain, they add ham to flavor the stock, but in pre-Inquisition days the soup was most likely made with beef. You may add diced cooked brisket for a more filling soup (see the variation). In the city of Tetouan, Moroccan cooks add greens and use white beans instead of chickpeas. For a meatless version, use vegetable broth.

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Ingredients

  • cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 8 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 3 zucchini, cut into rounds
  • 1 small vegetable marrow, sliced crosswise, or 1 turnip or rutabaga, quartered
  • leaves from 1 bunch swiss chard, cut into strips (reserve stems for another use)
  • 2 apples, quince, or pears, peeled, cored, and diced
  • salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • sugar to taste (optional)

Method

In a soup pot, combine the chickpeas, onions, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook covered until almost tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the fruit and simmer until tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Add the salt, cinnamon, pepper, and cumin and sugar, if using. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.

Meat Variation

Gilda Angel refers to a sopa de la siete verduras y carne, in which 3 to 4 pounds of brisket or beef shank are cooked with the soaked chickpeas (or dried favas), 2 chopped onions, 1 piece of diced pumpkin, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 8 cups water for 3 hours. Remove the meat and set aside. Puree the soup and add cinnamon, and cumin and sugar, if using. Cut the meat into dice and return it to the soup. Reheat gently and serve hot. I prefer to add the vegetables later so that they hold their shape, and I add the diced meat to the broth after the vegetables are tender.