The first time I made this stew was one of those days where I looked up and realized that it was somehow, impossibly five-o-clock and I didn’t have anything planned for dinner. I began to panic and texted Chris to see if he might be able to bring something home. No response. He was probably in a meeting.
With dinnertime looming, I couldn’t just wait around and do nothing. The frantic fridge and pantry raid began. Almost immediately the three cans of chickpeas in our cupboard jogged something in my memory. I’d once made a Moroccan chickpea soup that was pretty decent and had called for three cans of chickpeas. Did I have everything else on hand? I found the recipe and confirmed that I did.
But I also had some other things I needed to use up, like a pepper from our CSA, some carrots, and a couple potatoes. So I decided to adapt—nay, expand!—the original recipe. By the time Chris texted me back over an hour later, I was able to breezily respond that dinner was already on the stove.
The original recipe may have been pretty decent, but this version is downright delicious. The cinnamon and cumin play beautifully together, and the addition of fresh ginger and turmeric really takes it up a notch. And though adapted from a soup, this one is most decidedly a stew, made thick and hearty with carrot coins and creamy chunks of potato. It has seriously claimed a spot as one of our all-time favorites.
The second time I made this stew, I set it on the stove to simmer before we left for a long walk. It was a chilly fall evening, just beginning to grow dark. By the time we arrived home, we were all ready for something warm and filling. I ladled the stew over small mounds of quinoa (which, in case any of you were wondering, is the single messiest food you can give a toddler) and we ate, two bowls each.
Looking back, I am so glad I had nothing planned for dinner that night. If I had, I may never have created this recipe—one that I’m already planning to make at least once a month from here on through the end of the winter.
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free
This hearty stew is flavorful and aromatic. Don't be scared by the amount of cinnamon called for--it seems like a lot for a savory dish and smells really potent just after it's added, but evens out and melds with the cumin as it simmers. While great on its own, I like to serve this stew over quinoa; millet or couscous* would be nice as well.
- 1 large onion, diced
- Water for sautéing
- 1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into ⅛” coins
- 8 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced
- 1 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (about 3 medium tomatoes)
- 3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon agave
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut in a ½"-3/4" dice
- 5 oz baby spinach
- Heat a large, heavy pot over high heat. Add the onion and stir, allowing it to sauté in it the water it releases until it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Once this happens, add a small splash of water to keep it from sticking. Continue adding water as needed to prevent sticking while sautéing the remaining veggies.**
- Once the onions are translucent and browned, add the diced pepper and carrots. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until the carrots are beginning to grow tender. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for a minute more.
- Stir in the spices and sauté for a minute or two, until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, vegetable broth, and agave. Season with a couple of generous pinches of salt and ground black pepper.
- Bring the stew to a simmer, then cover and continue to simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or up to a couple of hours.
- About 15 minutes before serving, use a firm spoon to smash some of the chickpeas against the side of the pot (this will help thicken the stew). Add the diced potatoes and bring the soup back up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Remove the stew from the heat and stir in the spinach; allow it to wilt for minute or two. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
**As an alternative to water sautéing the vegetables, you can sauté in oil if you prefer. Use a slightly lower cooking temperature and choose an oil suitable for high-heat cooking, like coconut or grapeseed.