Chickpea and Spinach Soup

[from Joanne]


I traditionally make a huge amount of this soup for our New Years Open House. We don't have a pot large enough for all of it, so I make "the base" the day beforedoing all the steps up to adding all the liquid. On New Years Day, I start with some of the base plus some liquid and spinachthen keep replenishing the pot as it goes down!

I've reproduced the recipe as it appears in The Tassajara Recipe Book, but I use canned chickpeas and frozen chopped spinach; I often don't include the sherry. Except for salt, I use a lot more of all the spicessometimes ancho chili plus chili powder, plus paprika, and many more cloves of garlic!

What I most enjoy about making this soup is that the first step?sautéing the onion and thymeperfumes the house beautifully!

Chickpea and Spinach Soup

Spicy with garlic, chili, and thyme; earthy with chickpeas; tart with spinach; sweet with onions and tomatothis soup has a lot of flavor interest. The ancho chili called for is a large, mild chili with a sweetness reminiscent of prunes. They are occasionally available in large supermarkets and specialty shops, as well as in Mexican markets.

1 ½ cups dry chickpeas
1 medium red onion, diced small
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely minced, OR ½ teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ancho chili, toasted and ground, OR ¼ teaspoon chili powder, OR 1 teaspoon paprika
4 large tomatoes, very ripe, peeled, seeded, and chopped, OR 2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped (juice reserved)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sherry
8 cups cooking liquid, from the chick peas, vegetable stock, or juice from canned tomatoes
1 bunch spinach, stems removed and leaves finely chopped salt & freshly grated black pepper

Makes about 12 cups of soup

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Cook them with at least 4 cups of water for 3 hours or more until soft (or pressure cook for 20-30 minutes). Be sure NOT to put in any salt until later, after the beans are soft.

Cook the onions and thyme in the olive oil over a medium flame until the onion is soft.

Increase the heat and add the garlic chili (or paprika), tomatoes, bay leaf, salt and sherry. Stew for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chickpeas and the 8 cups of liquid?from the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock, or water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the beans absorb some of the flavors.

Add the spinach leaves (cut small enough so that they don't dangle out of the spoon when eating) and cook 5 minutes more.

Check for salt and add pepper to taste.

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