Tonight I took the time to test out a recipe that I’m thinking of using for an upcoming party. It’s from Dave Lieberman at the Food Network. The preparation was extremely simple, the ingredients were inexpensive, but the flavors are both powerful enough to make an impact and subtle enough that you cannot guess all of the ingredients. I also tweaked it a little bit.
Soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. Chickpea soup in particular is traditional for the Berbers, people who are defined as the “descendants of pre-Arab inhabitants of North Africa.” At the heart of Berber food you will always find spices. Now, my entire apartment smells like cinnamon, cumin and smoked paprika. What’s great about this dish is that while it’s a vegetarian soup, calling only for chickpeas, spinach, onion, garlic, tomato and spices, you can easily introduce a protein to it without interfering with the texture or flavor. I think it might even enhance it. While tonight I added shredded chicken that I had boiled in the company of an onion, salt and pepper, I think that this dish would be almost intolerably good if I add a lamb sausage next time.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
- 1 large onion, medium diced
- 6 to 8 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (5-ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach
A lot of the soups I make, in fact most soups in general are bare-cupboard, no-money peasant food, calling for simple and inexpensive ingredients, yet nonetheless they are extraordinarily delicious. This soup is no different. Its minimalist nature leaves it open for tweaking and interpretation, but there is something comforting about its simplicity and history.