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Hearty and nutritious vegetarian chickpea noodle soup

Last week Paul spent most of the week in Norway on business, so I was home alone. I always really enjoy having a few days to myself to putter around the house and do things, like haphazardly load the dishwasher with absolutely everything in sight, I know would annoy him. I like to tackle little projects around the apartment when I’m home alone, this time I took the train out to IKEA one afternoon and picked up, among other things, some frames for bits of art we’ve collected on our travels. It’s nice to finally have them on the walls. I also have a couple of tv series – Grey’s Anatomy, and Girls – which I only watch when I’m home alone; I put a reasonable dent in both.

But the nights! Good grief, I have seriously under appreciated how much heat that man gives off! We always sleep with our window open a crack, even in the deep of winter, but those nights home alone when the thermometer was teetering around zero, I had every window sealed shut, the heaters cranked, and was shivering in my winter pyjamas under all of our blankets. I was happy to have Paul home on Friday evening, for the company especially, but also for the warmth!

Hearty and nutritious vegetarian chickpea noodle soup

Speaking of staying warm, let’s talk about this soup; a hearty, brothy, nutritious chickpea noodle soup. This soup is inspired by Tamar Adler and Mark Bittman, both of whom sing the praises of bean broths in their respective books, and also by my friend Jess who blogs over at Inquiring Chef, who mentioned saving her chickpea broth in the freezer and using it in all kinds of things. And so, I wanted to build a soup around not just chickpeas but chickpea broth.

The chickpeas are cooked with aromatics to make a tasty broth. The soup begins with deeply caramelizing a lot of onions, then adding other bits; garlic, celery, carrots, finely grated ginger, seasoning each layer as it goes in. The chickpeas and their broth are added, along with whole wheat fusilli and a bit of the salty pasta water to balance things out.

It all comes together as a delicious and delicate, hearty, warming, stick to your ribs kind of a soup I think you should all add to your repertoires. It is particularly good served piping hot and sprinkled with a little bit of home made celery salt.

Hearty and nutritious vegetarian chickpea noodle soupOne year ago: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Two years ago: Roasted Pumpkin and Kale Frittata

Chickpea Noodle Soup Recipe:

The essence of this soup is the chickpea broth, so I really encourage you to start with dried chickpeas and make the broth from scratch. If you don’t have time you can substitute 2 cups of canned chickpeas and 6 cups of good vegetable broth.

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1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or quick hot soaked and drained
8 cups water
1/2 a yellow onion
1/2 of a large carrot, peeled and cut in half
1 clove garlic, smashed

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Combine soaked and drained chickpeas, 8 cups of water, onion, carrot, and garlic in a medium pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Chickpeas are done when you’ve tested five of them and they’re all nice and tender.

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1 1/2 yellow onions, diced (about 2 cups diced onion)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup diced carrot)
1 cup diced celery
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 cups whole wheat fusilli, or other shaped pasta
salt and pepper

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In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring every few minutes, until they are deeply golden brown, but not burnt. This took about 20 minutes in my kitchen. At this point add the garlic, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook for a minute more. Now add the carrot, celery, and ginger, along with another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir, then cover the pot with it’s lid to allow the vegetables to sweat it out. Allow them to cook until they are just barely tender – about 10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic, onion, and carrot from the bean pot (I deemed the carrot not too onion-y tasting and threw it in a smoothie. The garlic and onion I discarded.) Now add the chickpeas and broth to the veggies in the big pot all at once. Stir to combine, and allow the soup to come to a boil, uncovered. Then reduce the heat to low and cover it.

Meanwhile, in the pot you just had the beans and broth in, bring plenty of water to a rolling boil. Salt it well, then add the whole wheat fusilli. Cook until the pasta is just al-dente, about 10 – 15 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pasta directly into the soup. Stir, then taste the broth. If it needs salt, add a bit of the pasta water; it’ll have good flavour, and is already nice and hot. Season with a bit of pepper, and you’re ready to serve.

Chickpeas are a super food! They’re a very good source of folate, protein, dietary fiber, phosphorus and iron. The fiber in chickpeas is mostly insoluble, which is really good for our digestive tracts. You can read more about the health benefits of eating chickpeas here.

Whole wheat pasta, made from flour with the bran and germ intact, is a significantly better source of fiber and nutrients than the regular wheat version. Bear in mind that pasta portions, particularly in restaurants, are often waaaaaaay larger than they should be. Aim for around a 1 cup serving of cooked whole wheat pasta.

Do ahead: This soup can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for up to five days in a sealed container. The whole wheat pasta is quite sturdy, and survives storage in the broth well. If you’re making specifically to keep in the freezer, however, you may want to leave the noodles out and add them fresh at the time of serving.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012

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