Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Creamy Italian Chickpea Soup

One of my frugal favorites; Have you tried cooking beans or chickpeas from dry?
It's SO easy (especially in a slow-cooker), SUPER cheap, and even better, this recipe requires no soaking or anything complicated!!

This soup doesn't look like much, but it's wonderfully satisfying and creamy.
Perfect "comfort food" on drizzly winter days. (Which would be all winter around here!)

Add some greens while heating through at the end if you want. I do that sometimes, though my kids prefer "plain" soup with sourdough croutons!

Creamy Italian Chickpea Soup

7 cups full flavored vegetable broth (make your own or spice up canned or boxed a little)
1 pound Dried Chickpeas
1 Carrot, diced
1 Onion, peeled & diced
1 Stalk Celery, diced
5 Cloves Garlic, peeled & chopped
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Crushed Dried Basil Leaves
1/2 cup Chopped Vegetarian "Bacon" of your choice. (I use a tempeh 'bacon' product but use whatever you like.)
 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
More Vegetable Broth (About 4+ Cups)
Salt & Pepper

To Serve:
Cracked Black Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Croutons if desired

Place the water, chickpeas, carrot, onion, garlic and celery, lemon juice, oregano and basil in in a 4 quart slow cooker. (Or in a stock pot on the stove)
Cover and cook in slow cooker on high heat for 4 hours, or low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or until tender. (Or a low simmer on stovetop for 4+ hours, adding water as needed until beans are soft)

After chickpeas have cooked, taste for salt, if the broth was salted you won't need it, otherwise add some now, then turn off and set aside.
(At this point you can refrigerate the chickpeas until ready to make soup - just bring to temperature in a pan on the stove or in crockpot again when ready). When you're ready to make soup, in a medium skillet, heat the oil and then add the vegetarian "bacon". Cook until the veggie bacon pieces are lightly browned and crispy if possible, set aside.
Remove about 1 1/2 cups of the chickpea/veggie mixture and set aside until later. Taste chickpea/veggie mixture in crockpot and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Puree the chickpeas/veggies until thick and smooth, adding additional broth as needed to get the thickness you prefer for soup.
I use a "Stick Blender"/Immersion Blender to blend the harm chickpeas right in the crock pot.
If you are going to use a blender make sure the chickpeas have cooled some, and do this in batches (so as to not have a heat and steam explosion).
Start heating soup to serving temperature and stir in the whole chickpeas you had set aside earlier - let soup come to serving temperature. (Either in crockpot or you can heat in a pan on the stove at this point if you want...) If you want, add several handfuls chopped spinach, baby arugula or chard at this point. Simmer a few extra minutes until just cooked.

Just before serving, stir in browned vegetarian "bacon" bits.
Serve in individual bowls topped with some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if you want to be all authentic.