because it isn’t an African soup, any more authentically than any other culturally/cartographically obtuse and dehistoricizing “African” anything is African. brings to mind the Loony Toons cartoon (“Porky In Wackyland,” 1938) where porky pig’s plane is seen traversing the borders of Dark Africa, Darker Africa, and Darkest Africa, before penetrating finally the unknowable territory of “?” (the ineffable heart of darkness, aka, uh, Wackyland).
but anyway it’s a ginger-carrot-fennel soup, containing harissa (tunisian; north), topped with, among other things, (ethiopian/eritrean; east) berbere*-spiced almonds.
and it’s delicious. sauté 1 medium onion, a couple cloves of garlic, 1/2 a cup of chopped fennel and as much ginger as you can bring yourself to grate in a lot of butter and some salt. add ~2lbs thinly sliced carrots, add some more butter and some coriander (powdered or just ground seeds) along with the carrots and stir around a good bit. then add 4 cups of stock (i used 1 cube Harvest Sun onion bouillon) and cook at medium heat until good and soft. in the meantime roast half a bulb of garlic and a handful of almonds in the oven.
when the carrots are, as i said, good and soft, toss in the (now peeled, duh) roast garlic, and if the soup needs to be thinned up (which it very well may) add a splash of cream/yoghurt/milk/soy/almond beverage, and approx the same of orange juice, then blend that shit til smooth.
crush the almonds together with some berbere* spice.
this is basically all you need (plus coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper, shit!), but should you be so stocked, serve with the crushed almonds, a squirt of lime, some good ricotta and a bunch of cress, for freshness, all drizzled with walnut oil and a glug of olive oil.
the walnut + almond in this may strike you as unnecessary, but i feel they contribute body and intellect, respectively.
what i like about this variation on good ol’ carrot-ginger soup is how the berbere/harissa/almond gives it a certain depth and complexity, beyond its hearty and heartwarming qualities.
this is a spice blend associated with Ethiopian and Eritrean** cuisine that has about as many variations as there are people who use it, but i’ve found that something along the following lines is a good starting point.
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black pepp
1/2 tsp cardamom***
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
dry toast these guys, then throw in a coffee grinder and mill to a semi-fine powder
2 Tb onion powder
4 Tb cayenne (this is rough. the best recipes call for about a cup of cayenne, which you should reduce according to your own tastes/extent to which you are a giant baby)
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp salt
mix it all together, store in a tightly sealed whatever out of direct sunlight, and proceed to have your life suck markedly less. this is, in my opinion, an absolutely necessary pantry staple. goes particularly well with almonds, lentils, chick peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, honey, most toasted seeds (also tahineh), couscous, polenta or quinoa, bitter greens, raisins, chicken and lamb i’d assume, and is nicely offset by yoghurt and mint. good god.
you can also mix it to a paste with some olive oil.
**i’m contemplating a pretentious, kit and caboodle switch from ever referring to “Ethiopian flavours” in my food, to the much sexier and more mysterious Eritrean Influence. feel free to spit on me when next we meet.
***depodded, and thus slightly less, if you don’t want to have to spit out the fibrous little shell fragments, occasionally.