Since fall has finally arrived here in Jerusalem and it’s cool enough to actually feel like eating soup, I’ve gotten around to cooking two different “orange soups” that I have had the pleasure to eat while here in Israel. I originally had them both during Rosh Hashanah meals – served on back-to-back nights by two different families and I requested both recipes. The first was a more savory soup featuring red lentils (which really look orange) made by our friends Myra Clark-Siegel and her husband David Siegel. The second was prepared by our friends the Argovs. Yossi Argov spent 6 months living with us in Washington, DC when he worked as an Israeli shaliach at our kids’ school and we were lucky enough to enjoy a lovely Rosh Hashanah seder and meal with his family, which included a sweeter version of an orange soup for the holiday. Both soups were so good, they became a topic of conversation for me at my Ulpan and a way for me to learn many cooking terms in Hebrew. And while my Ulpan teacher at first literally thought I meant orange soup – as in the fruit (tapooz) – that is not the case. Both of these are earthy, hearty, orange-colored soups that rely on a combination of carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. Both of them have their own texture, spice and appeal, depending on whether you are in the mood for something sweet or something savory. They are also great vegetarian recipes as they can be made with water or pareve chicken soup base or boxed “No Chicken” broth. My kids prefer the Argov Orange Soup, largely having to do with it’s sweeter flavor base. As for me – I can’t decide, so I make them both – just not at the same meal. They freeze beautifully and while they are lovely as part of a Shabbat or holiday meal, they can easily make a quick stand-alone dinner with some great bread. Both are guaranteed to become family favorites. Each soup serves about 6 people.
DAVID SIEGEL’S FAMOUS ORANGE SOUP
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion peeled and finely diced
1 very small green chili pepper finely diced (optional)
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 carrots sliced into circles (if they are really large carrots you may only need 2)
1 large sweet potato peeled and chopped
2 cups Israeli pumpkin peeled and chopped (if you are buying a piece of Israeli pumpkin you can look for one about 3×6 inches long).
1 cup red (orange) lentils rinsed and any stones removed
6 cups water
3-4 heaping teaspoons pareve or real chicken soup powder dissolved
3-4 slices of lemon peel. Peel several slices form a lemon and make sure to remove any of the white pith or it will add a bitter flavor.
1-2 teaspoons curry powder to taste
salt and pepper
Some Notes from Myra:
- Take 1 cup of water and boil it and then add the chicken powder so it mixes well instead of getting clumpy. Add that to the soup along with the additional water.
- Israeli pumpkin is not nearly as sweet as American pumpkin. Try butternut squash instead of Israeli pumpkin if you don’t have access to it.
- Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat and cook the onion until soft and transparent (about 7 minutes).
- Add the chili pepper, garlic and carrot slices and stir for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the sweet potato, the pumpkin, and the lentils, the water (with the chicken powder), the lemon peel and the spices and gently stir it all together.
- Cover the pot for about 30 minutes (make take a bit longer) until the veggies and lentils are soft.
- Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
- Remove the lemon peel (if you like)
- Serve with cilantro or parsley as a garnish.
ARGOV ORANGE SOUP
(This recipe is my version based on the soup the Argov’s made at Rosh Hashanah)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1 large sweet potato peeled and diced
3 large carrots peeled and diced
2 cups Israeli pumpkin diced (or other orange squash)
1 regular potato peeled and diced
6 cups water with 1 tablespoon pareve chicken soup powder added
(or 1 box ‘No Chicken” broth plus 2 cups water)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a deep pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion and garlic and sauté 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent
- Add the sweet potato, carrot, and pumpkin and sauté for an additional 7-10 minutes.
- Add the liquid and bring to a boil
- Immediately reduce the flame and simmer until all the vegetables are soft and mushy – approximately 45 minutes.
- Cool the soup. Note – you do not have to cool the soup but it makes blending a much less dangerous experience.
- With an immersion blender, puree the soup. Consistency is a matter of preference. I like it to look soft and silky. Many people prefer it to be slightly chunkier and heartier.
- Gently reheat the soup and add in the seasoning – brown sugar, allspice, red pepper and salt* and pepper. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Serve immediately, garnish with croutons and some parsley if desired.
- Note: If you use the powdered chicken soup mix it can tend to make things salty, so I suggest tasting before you add the salt