Combine the tomatoes, broth or water, onions, fennel (if using), garlic, ras el hanout, oil (if using), and salt in a medium Dutch oven or large saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes.
Add the vegetables, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in the chickpeas, or serve on the side with the plumped raisins. Serve the stew with cooked couscous grains, rice, or polenta.
*To plump the raisins, place them in a bowl, and cover with boiling water. Drain before serving.
Ras El Hanout
This Moroccan spice blend can be made with anywhere from 10 to 50 different spices. The basic recipe here was designed to call for spices you probably already have on hand.
1 Tbs. each ground coriander, cumin, and ginger
2 tsp. each black pepper, ground cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and turmeric
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of saffron, optional
Spoon all the spices into a small jar. Close, and shake to combine.