The Chicago Blizzard of 2011 came and went with thunder, lightening, 70 mph winds, and over 20 inches of snow (the third snowiest day in Chicago since 1886).
I’m not complaining, because YAHOO, snow day!
However, I’m not much of a planner, which means on a typical day I have very little food in the proverbial pantry (actually, I don’t even have a pantry). I like the French way, and do my shopping daily, which allows me to get whatever looks good that day. So, on one of the nastiest days of the year, so far, it is Chicago after all, I trudged out to the Green Grocer, a neighborhood grocery store (while Patrick was digging out the Jeep) to see what I could come up with for lunch.
I returned with a couple cans of chickpeas, a head of garlic, cilantro, lemon, and jalapeno peppers (I typically have the requisite spices — cumin, coriander, and tumeric — on hand), and transformed the ingredients into a flavorful chickpea soup that really hit the spot. Also roasted some canned chickpeas in the oven until they were nice and crispy — to use as a garnish. They’re also great on their own (and quite addictive).
In addition to being the perfect antidote for a blustery winter day, this is an extremely easy-to-prepare soup and ideal for a weekday when you don’t have much time. You can also start with dried garbanzos if you like, but I always seem to forget to soak the beans ahead of time, so canned beans are always a great substitute in a pinch.
1 1/2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
12 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 small-medium jalapeno or Serrano chiles, minced (1 for mild, 2 for spicy)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
sea salt to taste
juice 1/2 lemon
roasted chickpeas (recipe to follow)
Greek-style yogurt (optional)
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, until they become fragrant and begin to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Crush in a mortar and pestle or molcajete. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the ground cumin and coriander, garlic, and chiles. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor, blend the chickpeas and the canning liquid, along with 1 1/2 cups water, the spice/garlic/chile mixture, lemon zest, cilantro, and salt until fairly smooth. Pour into a medium sauce pan, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to medium-low and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, maintaining at a slow simmer.
Take off the heat, squeeze the lemon into the soup and stir. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Ladle into individual bowls. If you wish, you can stir in a tablespoon of yogurt into each bowl. Garnish with cilantro, lemon zest, and a few roasted chickpeas.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
hot smoked paprika to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Drain the water and blot chickpeas with a paper towel to remove the moisture.
Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne. Roast the chickpeas on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
After 15 minutes, remove from the oven, add a squeeze of lemon, and toss. Bake for another 13-15 minutes, keeping a close eye to make sure they don’t burn.