Monday, January 12, 2009

Overplayed January promises

You will not find me making any New Year's resolutions. Not because I am not resolute; on the contrary, I am quite stubborn when I make up my mind about something. Just ask Husband. I refuse to suffer Howard Stern, no matter how funny Husband claims Artie Lange is. Even if on the off chance I overhear something that actually makes me laugh, I adamantly refuse to admit it's funny, and will not listen.

But when it comes to New Year's resolutions, well, my resolve takes a hike. Actually, I should restate that: my resolve is as strong as ever, it's just that my resolution is not to make any resolutions. No. I just can't stand all those overplayed January promises. I will not wait until a certain date on a calendar to do something that I think will make my life better; I am not interested in shouting my dreams for a better, thinner, richer, more thoughtful life from the rooftops on one day, only to revert to my worse, fatter, poorer, harried ways in a matter of weeks. I never make New Year's resolutions. I just do things I think I need to do, when I need to do them.

Hence, you're not going to find a whole bunch of "light" and "diet" recipes in this space. Hell no. I opened the year with the most caloric, dense, sugar-laden confection I know. Take that, Martha Stewart! But I have decided that now is a good time to plumb the depths of my overflowing recipe binder and share some dishes that are either brand new favorites or that make only infrequent appearances in my culinary repertoire. After two months jam-packed with old-standby favorites from my youth, it's about time for a recipe clipped from some random publication that, on the merits of its deliciousness, ought to show up more often in my cooking but that, for whatever reason, languishes between the plastic sleeves of my binder never to see the light of day or the heat of my stove. This is your time, under-utilized yet totally tasty recipe!

Into this spotlight steps a spiced tomato and chickpea soup. This zesty and spicy number gets its body from hearty pureed chickpeas and its soul from a dreamy paste of fragrant spices and garlic. It is perfect as a first course or a lunch, and it fits seamlessly as part of an Indian dinner menu. Much zippier than a traditional tomato soup, this recipe has a flavor profile much more complex than expected, especially as it sits so unassuming in the bowl. As I neared the bottom of my bowl tonight, I did away with the spoon and just sipped and savored.

By all means, I wish you well with your own resolutions, if you have chosen to make them. But as for me, well, I'm just going to eat a lot of soup.



The recipe originally calls for 1/2 c. roasted red peppers, which I omitted due to the fact that I was out of them and Husband doesn't like them, anyway. But of course, feel free to add them to the soup along with the tomatoes if you are so inclined. You can also garnish with a bit of sour cream if you like.

Additionally, the original recipe calls for one can of chickpeas, all of which are blended into a smooth soup. I prefer to add a second can of chickpeas post-puree, as the whole chickpeas add a nice texture and heartier feel to the soup.

4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. caraway seeds
1/4 c. olive oil
2 15-oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, divided
1 1/2 c. crushed canned tomatoes, with juice
3 1/2 c. homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken or turkey stock
Parsley sprigs, for garnish

Using a mortar and pestle (or with the back of a spoon), crush the garlic, red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, salt and caraway seeds to form a paste.

Heat the olive oil in a medium pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until just softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in half of the chickpeas, tomatoes and stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes.

Puree using a stick blender (or in batches in a traditional blender). If using a traditional blender, return the soup to the pot and place over medium heat. Add the second half of the chickpeas and cook for 8-10 minutes, just to warm the whole chickpeas. Serve with a sprig of parsley.

Serves 4.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've just found your lovely blog, and had to say, I too loathe Howard Stern. In fact, I refused to watch the E! channel while his show was on it. Gorgeous blog btw, hope you will update soon.