I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! We had a wonderful time celebrating on Long Island with Ravi's family.
To get back on track after a fairly indulgent weekend, I figured a hearty and nourishing soup would be the perfect remedy. This version is a cross between two Italian classics: Minestrone and White Bean & Escarole. It's loaded with hearty vegetables, chickpeas, and fresh herbs.
Since it's Sunday, I had time to soak and cook the chickpeas, which is honestly very easy if you have the foresight. While there is nothing wrong with good quality canned beans when your'e in a pinch (guilty!), the difference between canned and preparing beans from scratch is tenfold. Nutritionally speaking, soaking beans before cooking reduces phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors, which aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. It also affords you the opportunity to experiment with heirloom varieties and control the seasoning.
Chickpea & Greens Soup
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
(or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed)
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, gently crushed
6 cups water
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
4 cups vegetable broth (6 cups if using canned chickpeas)
1 bunch Swiss chard or kale, roughly chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
For the chickpeas: In a large pot, combine soaked chickpeas with water, bay leaf, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer (partially covered) for 60 minutes until tender. Turn off heat and let beans sit for at least 30 minutes. Once cooked, reserve chickpeas and their liquid. You can complete this step several days in advance and store in the refrigerator. (If you're using canned chickpeas, skip this step.)
For the soup: In a large stockpot, heat olive oil to medium and add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook for 5-8 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Next, add tomatoes, cooked chickpeas with their liquid, rosemary, thyme, 4 cups vegetable broth, a generous pinch of salt, and several grinds black pepper. (If using canned chickpeas, add an additional 2 cups vegetable broth.) Simmer for 20 minutes and check seasoning. When almost ready to serve, add chopped greens and simmer for 5 minutes until just wilted.
To serve: Portion into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley, grated parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tip: When adding fresh herbs to soup, I tie the stems together into one bundle with butchers twine (a "bouquet garni"). This saves time as I don't have to pick off and chop individual leaves and makes it easy to fish out the stems before serving the soup.