Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lemon Garlic Chickpea Soup

While sitting on the patio yesterday afternoon, I was watching the dog dig around the flower bed in search of a bone my mom had thrown away. My dog is an odd creature, which is why she doesn't often get rawhide bones or pigs' ears to chew on. She likes to bury and dig them up multiple times over the week until she deems them worthy enough to drag into the house, dirt and all. And don't forget the leaves and flowers she trails in after each romp in the bushes. They're everywhere. At one point, she was moving from spot to spot, digging and sniffing trying to find it. Finally, she gave up and sat in front of the barbecue as my dad grilled corn and burgers. No longer entertained by her shenanigans, I started to think about soup.

The corn (and broccoli sitting in the house)  highlighted the fact that I'm  a bit tired of steaming, grilling, roasting and braising my vegetables. I eat a lot of vegetables lately--a big bowl at both lunch and dinner, and sometimes snap peas or carrots for a snack. I was bound to get bored. But soups can be an interesting, flavorful and more exciting way to bring vegetables into the diet. Given the weather, you'd think I'd be drawn to gazpacho and creamy cold soups. Gazpacho is like drinking a bloody mary without the vodka, and I can't tolerate milk fat. If you were around when I tried to make dairyless broccoli soup, you'll also know that vegetable soups that call for cream really need that cream.

I decided I was looking for a  soup that could be served cold or luke warm--something refreshing and light and perfect for the summer. So I pulled out my mom's cookbooks. Ninety-percent of her cookbook collection consists of books that focus solely on desserts, and while the other 10% focus on actual food, they were published at some point between 1978 and 1990.  The things I saw in these books! So much gelatin, mayonnaise, fried foods, stewed vegetables and cream! The idea that vegetables and fruit in gelatin can deserve being called salad! Pretty appalling stuff, I tell you. I know I should have searched online, but sometimes books are just necessary, if you know what I mean.

While not recipe-worthy, the books did provide some decent inspiration. One of the soups that inspired me the most was Avgolemono, which is a Greek soup that consists of chicken broth, lemon, egg and rice. The idea of a lemon soup was intriguing--it had the potential to be light, fresh and summery if done right. And I was determined to do it right. Chickpeas, to me, are much lighter than a soup grain like rice and barley, and the egg seemed a bit much. Since I was also trying to get some vegetables in, sweet carrots seemed like a nice contrast to the tart lemon. And garlic? Do you ever need a reason to add garlic? Served at a lukewarm temperature with spinach and basil leaves to be added at the table, this soup really hit the spot. I liked it so much I'm skipping the salad tonight and having another bowl of soup.

Lemon Garlic Chickpea Soup
Serves 4

5 cups chicken broth
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
2-3 cups carrots
1/2 large lemon, zested & juiced
1 12.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained
4 cups spinach, packed
8 leaves fresh basil
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Crush and mince your garlic and chop your onion. Zest half of a large lemon, and reserve that half for juicing later. If not using baby carrots, peel and cut down your carrots into smaller pieces. Also, drain ad rinse your chickpeas to remove extra sodium. A can is about 2 cups cooked if you choose to use dry chickpeas.

2. In a 4 quart stockpot, drizzle and heat a little olive oil. Add onion, garlic and lemon zest. Cook on medium for approximately five minutes unto translucent. Add carrots and chickpeas, stir around, and cook for a few more minutes so the carrots and beans pick up the flavors.

3. Add chicken broth to the pot. Your chicken broth should come seasoned, but if it isn't, a bay leaf, thyme, or anything else should work.

4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots and beans are tender. Occasionally taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

5. While soup is cooking, shred about a cup of spinach and two large leaves of basil per person. Place on bottom of each bowl or set at each place setting to be added by the diner.

6. About 5 minutes before soup is done, squeeze in lemon juice. Adjust seasoning.

7. Soup can either be served hot or lukewarm. Regardless, greens should be added at the table to prevent mushiness.


Monet said...

I miss soup during the summer months. I am not a fan of cold soup at all, so this recipe seems like the perfect addition to my summer menu. I love using chickpeas and carrots in soups because they both hold up so well. And since I like adding lemon to everything...I'm sure I would enjoy the brightness of lemon juice in this dish. Thank you for sharing!

Pacheco Patty said...

I was thinking about making soup because I have a large head of kale from my veggie box in the fridge and now that I read your post it's soup tonight for sure. Your soup looks yummy and your mom's cookbook collection that's 90% baking or desserts sounds just like mine ;-)

kattyskitchen said...

I'm actually a huge fan of avgolemono, but I'd like to try your soup. :)

roxan said...

Soup is actually a great idea because it turned into winter again! Ughhh... when will we get some nice weather?

Jean said...

I love soups, avgolemono included. They just hit the spot sometimes.

Your take is fresh and light, so perfect for summer.

Chef Dennis said...

now that is a beautiful soup! with so many wonderful veggies around this time of year why not make of my Italian friends spoke of a soup recently that you made and just left out all day and ate at room temp...I think its makes a great meal and does tend to fill you up better than a salad! thanks for reminding us how good soup is even in the summer!

Tiffany said...

What a great recipe! We are doing this for sure, thanks for sharing!

baking.serendipity said...

Delicious :) I love adding chick peas to soups.

Kim (Liv Life) said...

Ditto what Roxan said! We are doing more soups, etc to deal with our foggy, gray weather here. This is still summery, but will warm us up!

jen cheung said...

this looks like a really healthy soup to have! im a soup lover and i love all kinds of soup. except bitter soups. hehe


FrenchPressMemos said...

Sounds perfectly hearty but still light. Maybe even my toddler will eat it. If not, more for me!

Chow and Chatter said...

wonderful soup a perfect balanced meal lol

Shree said...

soups are a nice way to enjoy veggies without getting bored. nice recipe

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Soup is good all year round! Your soup is so healthy. I made soup for a sick hubby the other day!

A Little Yumminess said...

Looks so healthy, light and fresh!

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