Faith Kramer's Supermarket Shakshouka Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer's Supermarket Shakshouka Soup (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Fan of shakshouka? How about some shak-soup-a?

This winter, it seems like most people I know either have had colds or have been building up their immune systems to help ward one off.

Here’s my contribution to the fight against respiratory viruses: a tasty meal-in-a-bowl packed full of vitamin C and other good things. It’s a soup inspired by the North African favorite shakshouka, which is popular across the Middle East, including Israel.

This recipe for Supermarket Shakshouka Soup has all the flavors of the traditional egg-topped tomato sauce and pepper dish. To make it an easier weeknight dinner, I use a few convenience items, source everything from my local food store and suggest how to make parts of the recipe in advance.

If eggs aren’t a favorite with your family or guests, replace them with 1 pound of firm tofu (rinsed and drained) or 1 pound of feta cheese cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch cubes. Simmer the cubes in the soup until warmed through.

Supermarket Shakshouka Soup

Serves 6-8

2 Tbs. oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tbs. minced garlic
¼ to ½ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)
¼ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
32-oz. box ready-to-eat tomato and roasted red bell pepper soup
4 cups water
2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 Tbs. tomato paste
15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
16-oz. bag frozen tricolor bell pepper strips (or 4 cups fresh)
3 to 4 cups chopped kale
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Cooked eggs (see below)
Zatar Croutons (see below)
3 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro or parsley
2 Tbs. minced lemon zest
Salsa, harissa, zhoug or similar spicy sauce (optional)

Heat oil in large, deep pot over medium high heat. Sauté onions until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add garlic, red pepper, cumin, oregano and salt. Sauté until garlic is golden. Add boxed soup. Pour water into empty box to help get all the remnants out. Pour into pot. Bring to simmer, stirring often. Stir in tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, chickpeas, pepper strips and kale. Return to simmer. Cover. Simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Stir in lemon juice. Taste. Add more salt if needed. (Can be stored in refrigerator. In that case, simply reheat soup and proceed.)

Just before serving prepare eggs and croutons. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls. Top each with egg and croutons. Sprinkle with minced cilantro and zest. Alongside, serve your choice of spicy sauce.

Cooked Eggs

1 large egg per serving

To poach, use egg poacher and follow manufacturer’s directions, or bring a wide pot of water to a boil. Add 1 Tbs. white vinegar. Bring to a strong simmer but not quite boiling. One at a time, crack each egg on small plate and slide into water. Return to a simmer, cover pot and turn off heat. Let eggs stand for about 5 minutes until whites are opaque and yolks are no longer shiny; they should still be runny. Remove individually with a slotted spoon and drain. Use immediately or refrigerate in bowl of ice water. To warm, slide eggs into simmering water. Heat for 1 minute.

If frying, prepare just before serving. Heat 2 tsp. oil or butter per egg in fry pan over medium heat, crack eggs in pan, lower heat to medium low and fry, basting tops of eggs with oil or butter until whites are opaque and the yolks are just set.

Zatar Croutons

Serves 6-8

2 to 3 large pitas or other flatbreads
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. zatar mix (see note)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oil and zatar. Brush both sides of the breads with oil. Cut into 1-inch pieces and place on ungreased baking trays. Bake, turning pieces occasionally, until lightly browned.

Note: In place of zatar mix, you can use 1 tsp. each ground dried oregano, ground dried thyme and sesame seeds.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at [email protected].