More than just a simple broth, it says in the introduction in Persiana, a wonderfully hearty meal, containing whatever you have in the fridge. We made a tweak or two. First the suggested ingredients:
olive oil; 750g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks; 2 large or 3 small onions, diced, plus a further onion thinly sliced into half moons; 3 fat garlic cloves, crushed; 3 leeks, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped; 3 potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 4cm chunks; 5 ripe vine tomatoes, roughly chopped – we used some tomato paste; 4 heaped tsp ground cumin; 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon; 2 tsp sweet paprika; 3 tsp chilli paste – we used chilli flakes; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper; 2 400g tins chick peasl; large courgette, finely diced – not in this house; 100g feta cheese; handful flat-leaf parsley; handful dill; handful pistachio nuts; squeeze lemon juice.
So a lot goes in, and we need to mega soup pot. At the end of it are no less than three garnishes, each playing a vital part. Here we go:
Cover the base of your cauldron with olive oil, preheat. Add the squash, diced onions, garlic leeks and tatties. Saute without browning, until slightly softened. Then add the tomatoes, spices and chilli and give it all a good stir to ensure the spices evenly coat the vegetables. Cover with freshly boiled water, add a generous amount of sea salt – up to 4 heaped tsps., crushed, and a good amount of black pepper, stir once more and cook for 30 mins.
Insert a knife into the squash and when soft puree until the soup is lovely and smooth – this is where a wand blender comes in handy. Once smooth add the chickpeas and their liquid, reserving a couple of handfuls for the garnish. Add more water if you prefer your soup thinner, and check seasoning. Cook for a further 20 mins, then add the courgette and cook for a final 20 mins before serving.
Meanwhile drizzle some olive oil into a frying pan on a high heat and fry the sliced onion until brown and crispy. Add the reserved chickpeas and brown with the onions. Remove the onions and chick peas from the pan and set aside.
To make the herb oil put 6tbsp olive oil, parsley, dill and coriander – this isn’t on the ingredient list, but if you’ve got any… – along with the pistachios, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper and blitz until finely shopped with a pesto-type consistency, adding more oil if need be.
Pour the soup into large bowls, preferably wide and shallow, though it’s deep hereabouts, then crumble the feta into the bowls. Drizzle a couple of spoons of herb oil over the feta. Top with the crispy fried onions and chickpeas. The home made bread for dipping is optional.
Have fun. Enjoy. Savour the flavour.