I don’t know why I don’t make this soup, sopa mora con tostones, Moorish soup with tostones, more often. I grew up eating it very often, as my mom made it regularly. It’s probably the healthiest soup, or as we call it in Spanish, puré (for a soup where all the ingredients are blended). It incorporates a wide variety of vegetables, some spices, and extra virgin olive oil. What could be better?
School has been over for my children for a few weeks now —a bit longer for my high school son, and longer for my college student son. And as the day approached for that anticipated yet dreaded last day of school, I thought I had a small window of opportunity to have my friends over for a nice lunch, a ladies lunch, with delicious food and laughter and otherwise catching up before we all got wrapped up in the whirlwind of summer activities with the children. Don’t get me wrong, I love having my children at home. I’m one of those mothers that is sad when school starts again in August. But what I never look forward to is the piles and piles of school supplies, books, notebooks, and binders that invade the house, tables, and any surface available, for a while, until I dig into them, sort them, discard some, keep some for keepsakes, recycle or toss supplies, etc. My mind works better in uncluttered environments —not to mention the fact that my photos also look better when there’s no clutter around!
We had a beautiful time, and in the mist of each one of us having last-minute errands to run and projects to finish before the last day of school, we managed to relax and enjoy the food and each other’s company. Those are the moments that one remembers even years later, and not the dentist appointment, or the grocery shopping trip, or the laundry you didn’t do because you set aside some time to spend with friends. Sopa mora con tostones, moorish soup with olive oil bread cubes, was a good first course for our meal, which was preceded by a few appetizers, and followed by baked salmon over butternut squash and lentil salad with olive oil vinaigrette on a bed of Boston lettuce. For dessert, rhubarb almond cake, Belgian chocolate mini cakes, and lemon cream with berries and mint. The lavender lemonade that I shared on the blog recently was also on the menu.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know if the soup is called sopa mora, or if that’s the way we called it at home. The recipe for the soup comes from my aunt Geli’s Moroccan cook. Yes, you read it well, her cook. My aunt, with my uncle and cousins, lived in Ceuta for as long as I can remember, until my uncle retired from his position as director of the harbors of Ceuta and Algeciras. Ceuta is the Spanish city that is located on the northern tip of Morocco, and Algeciras is its closest peninsular Spanish city, across the Strait of Gibraltar and bordering the rock. Cooking wasn’t my aunt’s thing, and having an every day cook was pretty common, and apparently affordable, in Morocco, so she was lucky to live there.
The main spice in Moorish soup is cumin, which happens to be one of my favorite spices. There’s no shortage of cumin in the soup. As for the liquid, you can use water, but I suggest you use stock instead, the flavor will be much more intense. The soup is delicious as it is, but adding homemade tostones, olive oil bread cubes, really completes the dish.
With the farmers markets starting to open in Fort Wayne, sopa mora was a very timely dish. I hope you give it a try, because it could be one of your new favorite soups.
Note: you’ll need an immersion blender (work in batches if using a stand up blender instead)
2 small zucchini
3 celery stalks (leaves included)
1 head of garlic
2 medium tomatoes
3 medium potatoes
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Peel the potatoes, the onions, the carrots and the tomatoes (you can peel the tomatoes by submerging them for a few seconds in a pot of hot water and immediately peeling off their outer skin).
Dice all the vegetables (including the celery and the zucchini) in similar size pieces, of about 1 inch.
Place the vegetables in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add the salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are tender (to check for tenderness, prick a piece of carrot or potato with a fork).
Remove from the heat and, using the immersion blender, blend until smooth. Season with the cumin and freshly ground pepper, and adjust for salt. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir.
Serve in bowls or soup plates, adding a few extra drops of olive oil. Accompany with tostones (recipe follows).
OLIVE OIL BREAD CUBES
2 large slices panini or baguette bread
1 Tbs olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Cut the slices of bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Spread on an oven tray or cookie sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and toss, making sure all pieces are covered in oil. Distribute on the tray in a single layer and place in the oven. After 5 minutes, turn the pieces over, using an oven proof spatula. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the pieces are golden brown (watch closely to avoid over baking the bread, as all ovens are different, and yours might only take 3 or 4 extra minutes to be ready). Remove from the tray from oven and let the bread cool down.
The tostones will keep for a few days in an airtight container or storage bag.