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.
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.
Gilda Angel refers to a sopa de la siete verduras y carne, in which
© 2002 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.