In our people house

J and carrots

Are you familiar with the 1972 classic, In A People House? Seuss originally published it under his pseudonym, Theo. LeSieg. It is one of Lucas’s current favorites, and like so many of the two year old set he especially loves when we mess up the words as we read.

So for my sweet Lucas, here’s is a tale of what’s what in our people house – and for the rest of you, a recipe for the soup that’s simmering here tonight.


“Come inside, Mr. Lucas,” said the mouse. “I’ll show you what there is in our people house!”

Our people house has things like fishes, lots of laundry and a heap of dishes!
Maps and Legos, guitars and “BOOM!”s – that’s what you find in these boys’ rooms!
Crayons and markers, blue and red, here are your bay-bays and there is your bed!
Dolphin, pillow, wooden blocks, many many single socks –
Hee-hee Monkey, that $%^#& Banana book, come along, let’s take a look!
Piano, notebook, plants galore –
Come on Lu, I’ll show you more!
Napkins, towels, picture frames,
Lots of books, a closet of games!
Salt and pepper, olive oil,
the great big pot where the pasta can boil!
Table and chairs – but where’s the TV?!
Come on Lu, there’s more to see!
You’ll see a kitchen table in this people house,
A shoe and a sock filled with rocks, said the mouse.
Butter eaten off the bread,
Soap that’s rubbed on your brother’s head.
Toothbrush, hairbrush, ha yeah right!
Not unless we want a fight!
Soup on the stove, cooking books,
baseball caps left off their hooks,
bills to pay, Mommy’s kitchen string,
knife fork spoon – those aren’t bells to ring!!
Dolls and dishes, a teapot that’s trashed
Look out below! You’re going to CRASH!

There’s Daddy and Mommy, Jacob too –
So many people, who all love you.

“And now, Mr. Lucas, you know,” said the mouse. “You know what there is in your people house!”


“Once, households were producers and processors of food, centers of their own maintenance, adornment and repair, places of instruction and amusement.”
– Wendell Berry, from Living in the Future: The “Modern” Agricultural Ideal in The Unsettling of America


(Forgive the sorry iPhone photo, which does no justice to this soup! Try here instead. Mine totally looked that good, it’s just the lighting?)

Vegetable & Chickpea Stew
This is adapted from Laura’s Moroccan-Style Vegetable and Chickpea Stew, a recipe that taught me first that Muir Glen makes fire-roasted tomatoes (!) and second that while I can’t go to to Aziza every night for dinner, I can always reach for a can of chickpeas and set it in my sights.

We make a lot of soup this time of year, and my kids are pretty amenable to most of them, but they have a special fondness for veg-heavy soups with tomato-y broths (minestrone, straight old-school vegetable, etc). They are crazy about this Moroccan-inspired one; they especially love the garbanzo beans, which is slightly discouraging because while 99% of the time I cook my beans from dry, I don’t have a pressure cooker and can’t spend ten hours making chickpeas, so here we use canned. My kids seem to prefer them. Maybe it’s just that they’re different? Anyway, if I were making it only for grownups I would probably make it spicier – as it is, I have been eating this current pot with a really spicy kimchi. (Kimchi is obviously not a traditional Moroccan accompaniment, but man, it tastes good liberally spooned on a big bowl full.)

I probably don’t need to tell you, but this one is even better the second day. So don’t worry about the big pot; I just put a lid on it and put it in the fridge to rewarm the next day. A couple lunches later, you’ll be wishing you had made more.

Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 dates, pitted and chopped (I have skipped these and added a teaspoon of brown sugar instead, and that worked too)
2 carrots, chopped
1 large delicata squash, seeded and chopped (Laura’s original calls for sweet potato, very good, but lately we have been rich in delicatas from our CSA; we don’t peel our squash here, but you could)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
3 cups water or stock
1 red or yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
14 ounce box cooked chickpeas
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced (I added this, but you can leave this out and add chile pepper flakes as Laura does, or drizzle another something hot over top when you serve it)
Cracked black pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage, kale, or other greens

For serving:
Chopped flat leaf parsley and/or cilantro
Lemon zest
Olive oil
Cooked couscous
Kimchi (?!)

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and lower heat stirring occasionally until they have softened a bit. Add the cinnamon, cumin, and coriander; sauté until the onions are very soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, stirring and being careful not to let it burn. Add the carrots, dates, and squash. Season with salt and pepper, and stir well. Add the tomatoes and their juice, then the additional liquid. Bring just to a boil and then lower the heat and let it simmer for about ten minutes.

Add peppers and chickpeas. Simmer until the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage or greens to the pot, along with the chile. Cook just long enough to soften the greens, a minute or two.

Check for seasoning (we invariably seem to need more salt, maybe because I often use water as my liquid?). Serve hot, with couscous, or kimchi, or olive oil and lemon zest and herbs. (In our people house we add bread for sopping, very tasty and much less mopping … )

4 thoughts on “In our people house

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s