Dinner @ 226 - Chickpea Soup

I stopped eating meat around holiday time. I suppose this is when all (12!) the readers that were hoping for a stuffed pork chop take this blog off their reader. My husband still eats meats, but is one of the most adaptable eaters in the universe. I haven't quite figured out what to do with the children, yet. Right now, they eat what I cook, which are vegetarian menus. However, when the man takes the tongs and mama's at work for dinnertime, the kids usually eat an animal protein. For right now, I suppose they can get the best of both worlds and choose for themselves when they want that choice.

Being a vegetarian has been easy, really. A fairly natural transition. For protein, I generally turn to beans, and it seems I always have. In high school, my best friend and I were thoroughly devoted to Taco Bell's Pintos 'n' Cheese. Yes, there was a time in my life that I ate fast food...don't tell my kids. We would drift through the drive-thru in my '91 Lumina and, depending on the time of day, place a large order. If it was edging closer to 3a.m., it would be an even larger order. But no the matter, it always involved Pintos 'n' Cheese and there was no sharing them. We squirted the little bell clad packets of hot sauce on the top and slurped them up with our sporks. It was a very ladylike sight, indeed.

When my mom left my sister and I to our own devices, while in high school, we would come for lunch and many times turn to the same gourmet plate. We'd get out two cans of vegetarian beans in tomato sauce, carve open the tops and pour them into bowls and let them dance in the microwave for a few minutes. Pull them out and scarf them down in under fourty-three minutes - the time we were allowed for lunch before we had to return to school. Dessert was a few crunchy saltines on the walk back to school.

So, really, I could eat beans all week long and I've cooked them in almost every way. I usually cook a bag of dried beans in the slow cooker at the beginning of the week and they work themselves into our meals all week long. In tacos, on quesadillas, mixed in salads, thrown in soups, and spooned into curries. So, when I visited one of my favorite cooking blogs a few days ago and she had made a soup that I had never heard of and I had just cooked some chickpeas, it was so on. Obviously.

I had to make some minor changes to the recipe because the original involves jamon or Spanish ham. Often times, that sort of smoky savory flavor can be duplicated by using Smoked Spanish Paprika. So, after a few adaptations, this is the recipe I ended up with. And, both kids ate three bowls. Do I really need to keep typing?

Chickpea Soup with Crispy Croutons via wednesdaychef.typepad.com

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, plus 1 Tablespoon, divided
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 quarts water
Pinch of cayenne
Salt freshly ground pepper
1/4 smoked Spanish paprika
1 bay leaf
8 oz Soy Chorizo (available at Trader Joe's)
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 cup bread cubes (I cube and freeze stale baguettes, they make great croutons)
1/4 smoked Spanish paprika

Get out your soup pot and warm 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Throw in the carrots, onion, and garlic and let them get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the potato and push it around in the pan for about one minute. Add chickpeas, tomato sauce and water. Season with cayenne, salt, pepper, paprika, and bay leaf. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes. Pull the bay leaf out and discard.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender and return to soup pot.

While the soup simmers, make the croutons. Warm one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and chorizo and brown, about 5 minutes. Pull out the chorizo, and add the bread cubes, sprinkle them with paprika and turn them over for about 10 minutes. You want the bread to be crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, and covered with the smoky flavor. Stir the chorizo into the browned croutons.

Serve soup hot and spoon the chorizo and crouton mixture over top. I served this bowl of deliciousness with roasted cauliflower and a big citrusy salad, with green olives.

finger licking...


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