After a holiday season filled with gustatory delights composed from an excess of cream, sugar and butter, it’s natural to want to scale back a bit. Now, I’ve never been one to deny myself a treat or two; a rare day passes when something sweet or rich (or lucky me, both) does not pass my lips, asceticism just isn’t my style. With that said, it’s hard to ignore the general trend of eating a bit more consciously this month.
I briefly contemplated a cleanse, realized that was a bit extreme, and would most likely result in cranky Nicole (sugar makes me sweet!), and settled on eating more produce and whole grains, fewer cocktails and cookies, that sort of thing. Yes mom, I did intentionally leave that delicious pile of candy from Santa in your cupboard on purpose, sorry. Some might call it half-assed, I call it wholly realistic.
Soup seemed a natural place to start, few foods seem to pack in more flavor and virtue per bite. Embarrassing sidenote: soup and I only came to terms in the past couple years, I rebelled against soup as a whole food group for a good two decades (really), only to realize that I wholeheartedly love it in its infinitesimal varieties. This smooth and spicy soup is actually a perennial favorite; more weeks than not there’s a large container of it lurking in my fridge, ready to be consumed at moments notice. It’s one of those wondrous concoctions that is both relatively quick to make (for a soup at least), rarely requires a trip to the store, given you have a well stocked pantry*, and actually improves in flavor over time. There’s even the added bonus of providing ample practice for my olive oil drizzle “art”.
*Aside from the rosemary, though I find that cut rosemary lasts remarkably long in the fridge, and lucky me, I have a burgeoning herb garden from which I can snip a few sprigs.
Dig into a steamy bowl of this nourishing (and delicious, I promise) soup. And if you’re like me, finish with a creamy caramel (more on those soon). Balance! Soup is
not a meal.
As noted above, this soup really hits its mark after a day spent in the fridge, something about the added rest really lets the flavors meld together. That said, I can’t think of a time when the rich aroma failed to tempt me into slurping up a bowl immediately after it finished simmering. I usually garnish this with a bit of extra olive oil (use the best you have for the drizzle) and red pepper flakes; I LOVE spicy food, so keep that in mind, and if you shy away from capsaicin heavy foods either omit the added red pepper flakes, or at least tread lightly. UPDATE (4/17/12): I recently tried this with thyme instead of rosemary, and I actually think I enjoy it even more in that iteration, so use whichever herb you prefer.
Adapted from O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook
Yield: ≈ 6 servings
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and drained
4 cups chicken stock (feel free to use vegetable stock instead)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
acid to taste (start with 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and go from there)
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
a pinch of red pepper flakes
freshly cracked black pepper
a sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)
Heat the grapeseed oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes, stirring frequently until the garlic just starts to brown and is fragrant (about 5 minutes). Add the drained chickpeas, continue stirring and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken/vegetable stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
Blend til smooth either using an immersion blender (my preference) or by transferring to a blender in batches (carefully). Blend in the olive oil, acid, and kosher salt; I start with 1 teaspoon salt and adjust to taste – it usually ends up closer to 1 ½ teaspoons, but it’s largely dependent on the saltiness of the stock used.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with olive oil, red pepper flakes, black pepper and rosemary.
If you use vegetable stock, I do not reccommend using store-bought, it rarely tastes good. Instead try this recipe for relatively quick (1 hour!) homemade vegetable stock.
You don’t need an immersion blender to make this soup, but it certainly reduces the hassle, and at least for me, the mess. I am quite smitten with mine.
What recipe do you keep coming back to?