Taking Tea in the Kasbah

This week’s Friday theme is to share a favorite recipe and the story that goes with it. The recipe that came to mind for me is an incredibly simple, yet flavorful white bean soup I first had when traveling through Morocco three years ago.

Bab Bou Jeloud, or the Blue Gate, at the entrance to the Fez medina

Bab Bou Jeloud, or the Blue Gate, at the entrance to the Fez medina

Each time I make this soup I am transported back to the first day I tasted it. I was visiting Fez (which you can read more about here) with my teenage daughter and had just finished taking a tour of the ancient medina. We were both hungry, yet a little nervous to try the food on our first day in a foreign country. Deciding to take our chances at a tiny place tucked among the shops of the medina, we went up to the counter to order.

Fez medina

Walking through the Fez medina

There were no menus, just heaping bowls of salads in a glass case, a steaming pot of soup, and several meat dishes to which I paid no attention. The white bean soup looked like a relatively safe first choice and smelled heavenly to boot. It also came with copious amounts of flatbread to be used in place of a spoon. We scooped up our first bites with the flatbread and tasted what has since become one of my most favorite soups.

Fez, water fountain, medina

Water fountain, Fez medina

Later that day, we traveled from Fez to the capital city of Rabat to join our volunteer group with Cross-Cultural Solutions. As one of the cultural activities during that week-long stay, we were treated to a cooking lesson. When asked what dishes would we like to learn how to make, I saw my opportunity to be taught how to make the delicious soup from the medina. Before anyone else chimed in, I quickly piped up and said, “white bean soup”.

Fez medina, Morocco

Anteroom of a place of worship, Fez medina

Since that adventure three years ago, I’ve made this soup dozens of times, often alongΒ with a vegetable tagine. It’s both comfort food and a way to bring a little of Morocco into my home and to my dinner table. The smells and the flavors always remind me of that first day in Fez as my daughter and I sat in wide-eyed wonder watching the bustle of the day in the medina and eating this amazing soup.

Here’s the incredibly simple recipe:

Moroccan White Bean Soup

* 1 pound (500g) white beans (I like to use cannellini beans, but any white bean will do; if making your own, have them soaked and rinsed prior to assembling the soup; canned beans will also work well)

* 3 tomatoes, grated

* 1 medium onion, grated

* 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

* 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

* 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, finely chopped

* 1 Tbsp. salt

* 2 tsp. paprika

* 2 tsp. cumin

* 1 Tbsp. saffron

* 1 1/2 tsp. ginger

* 1/8 tsp. cayenne (or to taste)

* 1/4 c. veg. oil

* 1/4 c. olive oil

* 6 c. (roughly 1 1/2 liters) of water (you can add up to 1-2 additional cups of water if you like your soup on the thinner side)

Toss all the ingredients in a large pot, then gently stir to let them mingle and get to know each other. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover for about an hour, stirring occasionally to further encourage joyful connections among the ingredients. Serve with your favorite bread, a nice salad, or a vegetable tagine if you have one.


Be sure to check out these other blogs for some tasty food recipes (and one recipe for story making):

Ellen Gregg: Recipe for Chocolate Pudding

Janice Heck: Chocolate Dream Dessert

Cora Ramos: Recipe for Murder

Kim Griffin: Meatballs and What?

Liv Rancourt: Get Lucky!

How about you, dear readers? Any favorite recipes you’d like to share? I’m always up for trying a new vegetarian recipe, especially ones that help me use up an abundance of zucchini this time of year. The tea is ready and the pillows expertly fluffed. I always love to hear from you.

20 thoughts on “An Exotic Bowl of Comfort Food

  1. If tomorrow is a rainy day (the forecast says it will be), I am going to make this soup. My husband loves bean soup, and so do I. Thanks for the story and the recipe. This will now forever be known as Tami Clayton’s Exotic Bean Soup in my house.

  2. Pingback: Get Lucky! | Liv Rancourt

  3. This looks yummy, although I must confess that the thought of grating tomatoes has me a little intimidated. Hmm…I’ll try anything once!

    • I always use the food processor to grate the tomatoes and the onion. Easy peasy that way. If you have one, get that bad boy out and you’ll have grated tomatoes and onions in a flash. πŸ™‚

  4. Sounds delicious, but that’s a lot of spices and stuff… How wonderful, though, to have such a fabulous memory grounded in that recipe.
    I “learnt” to make paella when I went to Spain a few years ago, but haven’t actually tried making it once.

    • I guess I didn’t think much about the number of spices in the recipe since I usually have those things on hand in my kitchen.

      I love learning how to make the food I sample and enjoy on my travels. You should give the paella a whirl some day. πŸ™‚

  5. Pingback: Meatballs and What? | Kim Griffin's Blog

  6. I don’t typically eat soup ~ primarily because I hate the canned kind and I don’t have a good recipe.
    Now I do! It sound delish and I will be trying it. I think it’s so cool that you got to learn the actual recipe while you were there! What a nice memory πŸ™‚

    • Yes, the canned stuff is usually not very good. But homemade soup is the bomb. This recipe is pretty darn easy – just assemble the ingredients, toss ’em in the pot, and let it simmer. Voila! I have a few other easy, really good soup recipes if you’d like them (curry red lentil, potato leek, and a hearty lentil soup are some of my standards in the autumn and winter months). Just let me know and I’d be happy to send them your way. πŸ™‚

  7. I’ve already copied the recipe. I love good soups–so easy in the summer heat. I loved the pictures you included from your travels.

    • Thank you, Cora! I love me a good one-pot recipe and soups fit the bill on that most every time. I hope you enjoy this one.

  8. Wow, that water fountain at the Fez medina is pretty intense to look at. Such incredible detail πŸ™‚

    • I know, right? And all of the individual tiles were hand-cut and placed in the pattern you see hundreds of years ago. Simply amazing.

  9. This soups sounds as fantastic as the pictures you chose to share look, Tami. Reminds me so much of Istanbul, alas, I collected no recipes, but brought back Apple Tea and a tin of Turkish Coffee.
    I’ll have to come back when I have a little more leisure time, jot down your White Bean Soup recipe, and collect all the others. YUM!

    • I also brought back a little silver tea pot to brew the strong, very sweet mint tea that we had every afternoon in Morocco.

      I would love to go to Istanbul some day. It sounds similar to Morocco in so many ways.

  10. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I can tell already (before having made it), that I’ll LOVE it! Your story and photographs add to the mystique and flavor. πŸ˜‰

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! I do hope you like it. Each of the herbs and spices blend together to make such a flavorful soup. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. πŸ˜‰

  11. on ,
    Marcia said:

    When weather cools a bit I will be cooking your exotic pot of soup. Thanks!

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