As the snow fell last week, there were constant traffic alerts and pleas to stay off the roads. It seemed like a good day to remain indoors and try some new recipes with ingredients I had on hand. Pumpkin Stew with Harissa sounded like a dish that would provide some heat on a cold winter day.
I purchased a tube of harissa at the International Market in Kanawha City and I was looking for ways to use it. It is a spicy, aromatic chili paste that is used in Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, Libyan and Middle Eastern cooking. It will definitely add some spice to your meals and a little goes a long way.
I used a tad too much in my recipe, so I would recommend starting with a small amount and increase it to add the amount of punch you desire.
Commercial harissa can vary with each manufacturer. It typically contains a blend of hot chili peppers, garlic, cumin and coriander. The peppers are often smoked, which will add an additional depth of flavor to a dish.
There are also recipes for making harissa from scratch. Homemade harissa recipes vary depending on the region and household.
Harissa is used in soups, stews, couscous and main dishes. It can be added to a marinade for meat and fish. It will liven up hummus or yogurt, and it can be used in an olive oil dipping sauce for bread.
Harissa contains capsaicin, an antioxidant that is said to have many health benefits. It is also low in sodium.
If you like the taste and heat of Sriracha, you will probably like harissa. Just remember, harissa is strong and pungent. A little goes a long way.
Harissa Pumpkin Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa (a little goes a long way)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional since the harissa provides a lot of heat)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable of chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can petit diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
Heat olive oil in large soup pot. Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
Stir in harissa and spices (turmeric through cayenne). Continue to cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant. Add pumpkin puree, broth, tomatoes and chickpeas.
Once soup begins to gently boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour in the coconut milk and stir until well-blended and heated through.
Serve this soup hot.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. This stew can be garnished with pumpkin seeds or pistachios. A dollop of yogurt will help cut the heat. Experiment by adding greens such as spinach or kale when adding the coconut milk. Try serving over grains like rice, couscous or bulgur.