Friday, June 06, 2008

Ugly soups can be very tasty...

I'm not sure if our pantry just happens to be well stocked or luck was on our side tonight, but I didn't even need to run to the market to throw together this Beef and Bulgur Soup with Chickpeas we had for dinner tonight.

As soon as the spices hit the hot oil and the aromatic flood of fragrance lifted into the kitchen, Jeff and I couldn't wait to let the first spoonful of this soup roll around our taste buds. The combination of smoky cumin seeds, a couple cloves of garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, spicy cayenne and an intense spice blend, garam masala, was exotic and pungent - so much so that it was not a good idea to take a big whiff once they began to toast (oops!). Garam masala is a blend of spices including black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black peppercorns and a few others. Toasting will not take long, so be sure to keep them movin' and groovin' in the pot so they don't burn.

In a couple stages, lean beef stew meat and chopped onions are browned so the onions can soften and the beef has a chance to caramelize. Once that step has finished, rich beef broth and stewed tomatoes are stirred into the mix. You'll need to chop the tomatoes as they are pretty chunky - you can either snip them into pieces while they are in the can with a pair of kitchen shears or put them into the pot (wait on the broth) and use a sturdy wooden spoon to break them apart. As soon as the broth comes to a boil, the pot is covered and the mixture gently simmers so the flavors can mingle together. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), bulgur and thinly sliced carrots are stirred into the bubbling soup and it continues to cook until the bulgur swells up, drinking in all those exciting flavors.

This soup would probably be more appropriate served on a chilly winter day, but I don't think that will stop me from making this any time of the year. While it is not the most attractive soup in the world, it was completely filling, savory and healthy. I'd also love to try this at some point using barley instead of bulgur! The one downside for a weeknight dish was that it was a little time consuming between the prep and cook time - however, most of it is downtime where the soup only requires an occasional stir.


  1. I would even serve it during our camping trips. There's nothing like a nice bowl of soup on a cold camping night. This soup has all the good spices to make it a great flavor. This is on my list to try.

  2. Joe. You make NOTHING that is ugly! I'm convinced you could even cook squid and I'd be printing out the recipe....

    Have a nice weekend, I'm going to the beach.

  3. Your soup isn't ugly--it is lovely! I love chickpeas. I might try this with extra chickpeas, no meat, and vegetable broth--the spices and flavors sound delicious!


  4. Helene - I've never been camping, but I can see how a big bowl of this would certainly fit it well there!

    Quinn - Take care and have fun at the beach!

    Courtney - You'll have to let us know how that turns out!