Israel is famous for being a melting pot. Jews from all over the world came to Israel, bringing their cultural background with them including, of course, food!
Every ethnic group in Israel has its own speciality, which back in the days (after Israel was founded – in 1948) was exclusive to that group, and so was couscous exclusive to the immigrants from Morocco, Tunis and Algeria.
Growing up, we had a Tunisian neighbor who used to make an excellent couscous and always invited us to eat with her family, which we did, because that’s how it works in Israel, the neighbors are your family. Then, when I was 13, I became vegetarian and could not eat her couscous anymore because of the meat. But no worries! My sweet mother, who is not from a couscous oriented background, learned the ways of the couscous and started making me a vegetarian/vegan one that became even better than the real thing.
So here we go, my mom’s couscous: simple, healthy and delicious – and as you can see on my list – very cheap! Ingredients for a big pot that will last a couple for at least 3 days is less than 12 euro.
I only used half of the cabbage, half of the bunch of celery, and one onion from the kilo I bought – so, even cheaper 🙂
- You can play with the vegetables! I like pumpkin and always put more of it – this time pumpkin was hard to find, so I used butternut squash which is just as good as pumpkin.
- Prep work is essential here: wash, peel (potatoes, carrots) and cut all veggies before start cooking: onions, celery, potatoes, carrots, cabbage (try to keep the stem so the leaves won’t fall apart), zucchini, pumpkin (I scrub the peel and use it with the peel otherwise the pumpkin will disappear in the soup)
Ingredients: (For 4-6 people, or for 2 people for 2-3 days…)
- 1/2 cabbage
- 1 small pumpkin (small hokaido or 1/4 of a big one or 2 small butternut squash)
- 5 – 6 medium potatoes
- 1 – 2 zucchinis
- 3 – 4 carrots
- 1 – 2 onions
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 3 – 4 celery stems
- 1 box of instant couscous (Semolina – durum wheat) for 5 – 6 servings
- 2 spoons olive oil
- Spices – salt/pepper/turmeric/chili /sweet paprika /garlic powder (half a TSP each, but definitely more salt…)
- A few parsley leaves
Directions – in a big pot:
- Fry onion and celery in 2 spoons of olive oil – medium heat
- Add potatoes and carrots – fry for 1 – 2 minutes
- Add cabbage
- Cover with water (half a pot)
- Add salt & pepper and the other spices
- Cook for 30 minutes on a medium heat – sightly bring to boil
- Wash chickpeas SUPER well under running water
- Wash again 🙂
- After 30 minutes add the pumpkin and the zucchini
- Try stirring as much as possible – gently
- Add the parsley leaves and the chickpeas
- Try stirring a bit
- Cook on medium heat, covered, for 30 more minutes – make sure it boils a bit but not too much
- Make sure there is always enough water – as you can see in the above photo the upper part isn’t covered with water but it’s OK
- Stir from time to time
Once the soup is ready, prepare the couscous according to instructions: usually just soak in boiled water with some oil for 5-10 minutes, I also add a bit of turmeric.