It seems appropriate to start the celebration with celebration soup. I made this soup up as a teenager, inspired by the traditional Paprika Stew and the kinds of soups my grandmother and mother would prepare, and over the years it grew into a family favorite. Now we make it whenever we have something to celebrate, hence the name. Red and black pepper are auspicious seasonings and are very popular in Romani cuisine, and this soup is basically a festival of pepper, paprika, and other beneficial spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, which are especially valued in Ayurvedic medicine. The combination of fresh herbs, earthy spices, sweet veggies, and spicy pepper is absolutely gorgeous. Adjust the heat for your palate — this version is fairly mild.
- 1 sweet Vidalia onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 2 medium-sized carrots diced
- 1 Cup Petite Pois (sweet peas), frozen or fresh
- 1 Cup chickpeas (I use canned)
- 2 Cups diced tomatoes
- 4-5 Cups stock (vegetable or chicken works best), depending on how thick you like it
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- ¼ Teaspoon black pepper
- 1 dash red pepper
- 1 dash white pepper
- 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 handful fresh basil
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley
- ½ Teaspoon cumin
- ½ Teaspoon turmeric
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
- Optional lemon juice to garnish
Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Sautée until clear (about five minutes).
Add the chopped celery, carrots, and the dried spices. Cover, stirring occasionally, for an additional 10 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of stock if the veggies seem like they might burn.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, and stock, and bring to boil. Immediately turn the heat down to medium again and allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes, partially covered.
Then, add the peas and the fresh basil and parsley and simmer for another five minutes.
Remove from heat and adjust the seasonings as needed. Serve in colorful bowls with optional lemon wedges on the side