When readers of my old soup blog asked me for bouktouf, I winced just a little bit. The recipe for this Algerian vegan soup calls for two bunches of cilantro, and I am one of those people to whom cilantro tastes like soap. It turns out that the bright orange color isn't the only surprising thing about this soup; the addition of a large amount of lemon juice tames the flavor of the cilantro, in a good way, and gives the soup a lovely freshness.
Here's the original recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, word for word (because nobody could improve on it). I halved the recipe and ended up with five cups of soup, which I cooked in a Dutch oven. This soup just might be the perfect antidote to holiday overindulgence.
Bouktouf, Algerian vegetable soup
From the pantry, you'll need: extra virgin olive oil, onions, tomato paste, lemon, kosher salt.
Recipe from The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, as it appeared on soupchick.com. Serves 6-8.
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 onions, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and diced (I used Idaho potatoes)
3 large zucchini, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
Juice of 4 lemons, or to taste
2 bunches cilantro, coarsely chopped, stems included
Salt (I used 1 tsp kosher salt)
Heat the oil in the bottom (where else?) of your soup pot over medium-high heat. The oil should form a deep puddle. Add the onions and sauté them slowly, longingly, until they are limpid, about 15 minutes.
Add the potatoes, zucchini, and tomato paste. Just barely cover with water, turn the heat to high, and cover. Once brought to a strong simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low.
When the potatoes are very soft and the zucchini has given itself to the soup, about 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Using an immersion blender, purée the soup to a smooth consistency; alternatively, working in batches, pureé in a regular blender until smooth. The soup should shimmer in the ambient light.
Serve hot or cold.
More vegan soups for meatless meals:
Meat-free split pea soup, from The Perfect Pantry
Curried butternut squash and apple soup, from The Perfect Pantry
Zuppa vegana: Italian potato, bean and kale soup, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Lentil soup with spinach, tomatoes and cumin, from Kalyn's Kitchen
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