Ahhhh winter. In New York City, it’s finally here. November 2009 was the 7th warmest NYC November on record, so the recent dip in temperatures feels even more dramatic, if entirely appropriate.
Soups are a favorite food of mine at any time of year, but in the winter, they taste extra cozy and inviting. Today’s Velvety Chickpea Soup is a winter favorite in my home.
I love chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans. They’re so versatile, filling, and high in fiber and protein. They’re a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern food. Chickpeas are a staple in my kitchen. In fact, I made this soup from staples in my pantry. It’s simple, flavorful, and comforting. It’s one of those recipes that tastes even better after a day. The spices are key to its bold, warming flavor. Feel free to make a big ‘ol batch of it and enjoy it throughout the week.
Velvety Chickpea Slow Cooker Soup
1 pound organic dry chickpeas
1 small onion
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of coconut oil or neutral cooking oil of your choice
Spice blend: Mix together 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander, cardamom, paprika, fenugreek, plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1 Tablespoon tumeric
1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes, diced. (An 8 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes could work here as well)
1 large carrot
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups of fresh, washed spinach leaves
Optional: 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, or flat-leaf parsley for garnish (or a mix of the two)
1. Soak dry chickpeas overnight or do a quick soak. To quick soak, place chickpeas in a large pot. Pour in enough water to just barely immerse them. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn it off and remove the pot from the heat. Let soak for one hour. Soaking ensures the chickpeas will cook evenly.
2. Warm oil over medium heat. As oil warms, dice the onion and carrot. Cook onion in the oil for 3 minutes, turning often. Add in the garlic and ginger, and lower heat to low. Cook for another minute. Then add half of spice mixture, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring frequently to ensure spices don’t burn. This process brings out the flavor of the spices. Remove from the heat.
3. Drain water from soaked chickpeas. Pour chickpeas into a slow cooker, and add cooked onion mixture. Add in the rest of the spices, the sundried tomatoes, and carrot pieces. Stir. Add enough water to just barely cover the chickpeas. Put in a bit of salt and pepper. You can add more later if needed. Cover with lid, and set slow cooker to desired time. (Slow cookers vary. I always set my slow cooker for at least 4 hours. Check your manual to see how long beans typically take to cook i n your cooker.)
4. Once the chickpeas are done (fork tender), you have a perfectly amazing meal or side dish without even taking this next step. But if you’re motivated and really want a velvety soup, try this: Remove 1 cup of the cooked chickpeas from the soup with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Next, blend remaining chickpeas in either a regular blender or by using an immersion blender. Add water as needed to get the desired consistency of the soup. Use less water for a thicker soup, more for a thinner soup. This is when the soup becomes velvety!
5. Place soup back in the crock, and add in baby spinach leaves and reserved chickpeas. Don’t worry about turning the crockpot back on to a cook setting–the heat will wilt the baby spinach leaves very quickly. The reserved chickpeas will provide a chunky treat against the velvety soup.
6. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Garnish and serve or let cool and save for later.
Tips and Notes:
1. Make extra spice mixture and save for another use.
2. The sundried tomatoes are a nice touch, but fresh or canned tomatoes will do. The tomato flavor gives the soup a richness and depth.
3. A squeeze of lemon or lime on top of the soup before serving is a nice touch, as is a drizzle of olive oil.
4. If you don’t have ground cinnamon, you can put a cinnamon stick in the slow cooker. Just make sure to fish it out before serving.