Friday, 4 November 2011 | 22 comments

Gypsy soup

Mollie Katzen’s “gypsy soup” caught my eye for its name and name alone. The word gypsy is so evocative of something rustic, hearty, romantic and a bit tragic. I didn’t even look at the ingredients list before I decided I would make it. (This impulsiveness will likely get me into trouble someday.) According to the recipe, gypsy soup can be varied by subbing in various green and orange vegetables for the ones listed. (Incidentally, if anyone knows why this is, let me know. I became really curious about gypsy soup and did some research, and can’t find anything.) I decided on an autumnal riff on gypsy soup: acorn squash provided the orange, and some great kales and mustards that are happily growing in the cool November weather brought the green.(Once I was taking pictures in the garden, I had to snap some of the collards which are still goin’ strong. I have enough to make two more of these, probably.) The soup lives up to its evocative name, except maybe the “tragic” part. This is peasant food at its best; sort of a south-of-Spain minestrone. Paprika-kissed and sunny with turmeric, this is one I’ll be glad to be pulling out of my freezer in January.

Gypsy soup

Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook
Yields 1-2 bowls for now, plus enough to freeze in a big gallon freezer bag for later.

You will need

    4 tablespoons olive oil
    3-4 medium yellow onions, chopped coarsely
    6 stalks celery, chopped
    8 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    2 acorn squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
    4 carrots, sliced into thin coins
    28 ounces canned, diced tomatoes, drained
    50 ounces soaked chickpeas (canned is fine)
    6 cups liquid (Mollie Katzen’s recipe calls for water; I used half vegetable broth and half water)
    3 teaspoons kosher salt
    2 teaspoons turmeric
    4 teaspoons mild paprika
    1 bay leaf
    Dash of cayenne
    1 pound greens (I used a mixture of kale and mustard greens), trimmed and, if large, cut into 2-inch-wide pieces

    Asiago cheese for topping (or another hard, salty cheese)


    In your biggest pot, heat the olive oil. Sauté the onions, garlic, and celery until aromatic and beginning to soften. Add squash and carrots and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth/water, salt, turmeric paprika, bay leaf, and cayenne. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally until chickpeas and squash are tender. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, cayenne, or paprika as necessary. Reduce to a low simmer. Stir in greens, allowing to wilt before removing soup from heat.

    Serve with a good dusting of asiago cheese.

    To freeze soup, allow to cool completely. Ladle into gallon-size freezer bags. Seal, smoothing out any air pockets, and lay flat in the freezer to store.

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§ 22 responses to Gypsy soup

  • Lovely! Thanks so much.

  • This can more than likely be filed under “sharing information that no one really cares about”… but…. all my father ever knew about his father, my grandfather, was his name. My mom is very much interested in genealogy, so we decided to look him up in the census from many years ago. He was listed as an immigrant living in Wisconsin, with his heritage listed as Romanian Gypsy and his language was listed as Bohemian. It was the greatest thing I have ever heard! I fell in love with the fact that my ancestry was ‘gypsy’. What is it about this word, this culture, that is so enthralling, mysterious, provocative.

    Your writing about this soup… I can relate to how drawn you were to the word.

    Thank you for the soup recipe. I will have to try it.

    • I can relate to this! Isn’t it lovely to have such otherworldly, mysterious roots?

      This soup looks amazing. The name alone draws me, too, but this? With a crusty, buttery loaf? YES.

  • Boy, does that look good– especially in that darling bowl! And kudos from Mollie Katzen herself– how cool is that?! Brava!

  • This looks really amazing! Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Sarah – I made this on Tuesday and we’ve been eating it for dinner all week. It is amazing. Towards the end when it became more stew like we added some cumin and garam masala and ate it over rice. Thanks for sharing such a yummy and easy recipe! Will definitely be making again soon.

  • Made this soup again tonight, by special request for my friend who has been sick. She says it makes her feel like superman, and since she’s fighting cancer that’s a very good thing. I added some harissa and cumin, so good and warming.

    The pictures here just kill me. So beautiful!

  • sheila

    Made this today and so happy i did! It was delicious and loved by all! I had a pie pumpkin that needed to be used, so that went in instead of the squash!…and i was plum out of turmeric, so i used allspice instead. OH, and i had a head of celeriac that was begging to replace the celery. All in all, it was a wonderful recipe to warm us up on a chilly winter afternoon. Thank you so much for sharing it! this is definitely going to be added to my soup recipe arsenal!

    • Glad you liked it, Sheila! I bet the pumpkin was an awesome addition. Allspice instead of paprika is interesting, too. To me the soup just would be the same without the paprika, so I’m intrigued. Thanks for letting me know how it turned out :)

  • LaurelClaire

    Hi Y’all! Yes, its summer here in the Midwest, today was 93 F. I’m making the soup. I’m one of those folks that can eat soup for breakfast, and eat it everyday…….with crusty bread….of course. I LOVE THAT BOWL……..

  • Terri

    I loved and cried over your Bonfire Night post and so it was a MUST that I check out the recipe for Gypsy Soup and will be making this tonight. We missed Bonfire Night, but we can eat it on the patio with our fire pit going and pretend. . .and I have something I want to throw into the flames.

  • Margit Van Schaick

    This reminds me of a celebration we had many years ago in Toledo, Ohio. We lived on a street with eighteen houses, and ours was the only double lot. Combining Haloween and All-Hollows, we invited our entire street for an evening garden party, which included a version of this wonderful soup. With added bite-size sausage. So good and perfect for a cool crisp night. No bonfire, though, since we were in residential down-town. Sarah, your posts so often take me back to similar adventures I had so many years ago!

  • Alexandria Barnes

    I made this last night for the BF and he was thankful and pleased. First soup I’ll ever freeze for future nights when I’m out of town! I can always rely on being in the middle of a grocery store phone in hand and say “What should I cook from Sarah’s creations?”… thankfully I have wi-fi in bustling Chicago and The Yellow House isn’t too far away. Thanks as always for creating some delicious recipes for us Sarah.

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