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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recipe 1.02 - Chickpea Soup

For the longest time, I thought I hated chickpeas.

I thought they were smelly and gross looking and had no place in any of the foods I enjoyed eating. But then one day, I went out to dinner at a local campus restaurant, Cedars, with my friend Liz. Being the foxy women we are, the owner gave us a free appetizer of hummus and pita bread, which I had never had before. Liz started digging in immediately, and I figured that I might as well give it a try, especially because Liz was raving about it.

Now, I can't survive without chickpeas. I put them in everything I cook--dips, salads, and now soups. Being a vegetarian, chickpeas are super important to my diet and I try to have them as often as possible to make sure I get the protein I need. Not to mention they make all my food instantly better and more interesting.

I was initially excited about cooking this recipe, but it took a few moderations to get it just right. At first it was too thin, then it was underseasoned, then it was too salty, etc...The nice thing about cooking a soup is that you can sort of screw it up and still salvage it. When it became too salty, I just thinned it out. When it was too thin, I added another can of chickpeas to create a nicer texture.

The only problem that I can't fix is, after all the experimenting and salvaging, I have three huge bowls of chickpea soup sitting in my fridge and no one else to feed it to. I had two bowls of it last night, brought it to work today, and had some for dinner tonight as well. However, now that I think about it, I'm sort of glad I don't have to share. Or worry about greedy hands trying to steal my delicious soup. Yay for being anti-social!

Puree of Chickpea Soup
Based off the New York Times' series, Recipes for Health

1/2 pound chickpeas, washed and picked over*
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Madras curry**
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Parsley for garnish

Soak chickpeas in 1 quart of water for at least six hours. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook for five minutes, or until tender. Stir in the garlic, Madras curry spice, and salt. Cook and stir until the mixture is fragrant, about a minute. Add the chickpeas, stock, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Beans should be tender.

Puree the soup in a blender, or with an immersion blender until smooth. If you want, you can strain the soup to get a smoother texture, but that's not necessary. Serve with the lemon juice and parsley as a garnish.

*I found that the initial recipe gave me a really thin, watery soup, so I decided to add a can of chickpeas to the mix. It made the soup thicker and more flavorful.

**Madras curry is one of those things I found randomly shopping at Whole Foods, and since I'm a spices junkie, have been experimenting with over the past couple of weeks. Basically, it's a mix of common Indian spices that's not too hard to find in most stores and is pretty cheap.


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