Kitty Morse

Cookbook Author, Food and Travel Writer

Kitty Morse

Cookbook Author, Food and Travel Writer


Greetings on a sunny, Southern California, Fall afternoon. Halloween and

Thanksgiving are just around the corner, citrus trees are laden with ripening

fruit (another record crop awaits!), and golden, apple-sized figs still hang on

to our  tree for dear life. And birds find our our Pom Wonderful pomegranates

bursting open with sweetness irresistible.

I love the onset of Fall, here, in San Diego County, or anywhere else. Nature,

it seems puts forth its final burst of beauty, a mature one  tinged with the

colors of experience, of a brief, sun-drenched life. I can’t explain why, but

one of my favorite images of Fall is one of fading anemones in various shades of

pink drooping languidly over a blue vase. The artist is long erased from my


 And then there is  Halloween. Our location, off a busy street, has never been

conducive to enticing young children up our steep driveway. Yet, every year,

hoping a young visitor might break the mold, I stock up on Snicker bars, Crunch

bars, and Reese peanut butter cups (my husband’s favorites!) I would much rather

give away a wedge of Vache qui Rit cheese, or a plump Medjool date. That line of

thinking according to my husband, is distinctly “unamerican!”

 So what do you do when life hands you a carved pumpkin, and you don’t want to throw it away? Make pumpkin chorba!

Kitty’s Pumpkin, Tomato, and Vermicelli Soup

Serves 4 

In Morocco, chorba is a catch-all word for vegetable soup incorporating vermicelli broken up into tiny pieces. A bowl of steaming chorba is standard fare in many Moroccan households on chilly evenings. This soup is usually fairly thick, but you can thin it by adding a little milk.

1 medium onion

4 whole cloves

6 cups  broth

2 pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

5 medium tomatoes (or 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes), quartered

12 sprigs cilantro, tied with string

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 cup broken up capellini, or angel hair pasta

1 to 2 cups milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Wedges of lemon

         Stud the onion with the cloves. In a large saucepan or soup pot, combine the broth, squash, celery, tomatoes, cilantro, and turmeric. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain, reserving broth in a bowl.

         Discard the onion, cloves, and cilantro.

         In a blender, food processor or ricer, puree the vegetables in increments, adding the reserved broth a little at a time to obtain a smooth, thick puree. Return the soup to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Break up the pasta into 1-inch pieces and add to the soup. Simmer until pasta is cooked, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 cup milk or more for a thinner soup, and heat through.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


From The Vegetarian Table: North Africa by Kitty Morse. (Chronicle Books, 1996)