Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini

Garbanzo Spinach SoupThis is a rich one…and considerably less spicy than most things that we have on our table.  I do believe that this particular soup will be a repeat visitor to our table.  It fills a somewhat special niche in the soup world; it is a creamy soup that does not involve cooking with cream.  For anyone that has had the unpleasant experience of breaking and thereby rendering a cream-based soup…unpleasant (or at least very unattractive), you will probably understand the immediate appeal.  Instead, this soup uses a combination of tahini and starch to lend a thick, rich texture that, while not a direct substitute for cream, gets pretty close.

This soup packs highly flavorful punch from the combination of cumin and coriander.  I think that the combination of the chickpeas and potatoes softens the impact of this spice combination, allowing the distinct flavor of the saffron to shine.  The flavor profile is finished off with a small dose of cayenne.  The cayenne doesn’t really provide much heat, but has a sharpness that balances the dish.

This was a great lead in to a period of soup experimentation that we went through last month.  This soup spree was kicked off by the arrival of our flameware dutch over from Clay Coyote Pottery.   This is an amazing piece of gear.  Stylish, durable, and really, really consistent in application of heat.  The best part is that it can be use on flame, electric, glass, whatever.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this new addition to the kitchen.  It pretty much lives on our stove top and will probably be supplemented by on of their flameware tagines.

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Chickpea and Spinach Soup Flavored with Cumin and Tahini
 
Adapted from 400 Soups by Anne Sheasby
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ large red onion, ½ chopped, ½ thinly sliced
  • 1½ tsp. cumin, roated and ground
  • 1½ tsp corriander, roasted and ground
  • 3 cups stock
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • pinch saffron
  • 1½ to 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 4 Tbs. Tahini
  • 5 oz. spinach
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne
Instructions
  1. In large stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic over medium-high heat until softened. Stir in the cumin and corriander and cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, the saffron, and potato. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the cornstarch, water, and tahini. Add to soup incrementally while stirring, Add spinach and cayenne. Simmer an additional several minutes to blend flavors and thicken.

 

Steamed Mushrooms with Yams

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To those skeptics out there, this type of cooking is very different from the type of food that is typically associated with western vegetarian or vegan cooking.  There is no attempt in this cuisine to recreate a meat-like effect using plant products.  No veggie burgers or Tofurkey to be found here. Instead, these are direct formulations that are devoid of some of the forced, strained, or desperate feeling that I get when I look at recipes from a lot of the western vegetarian/vegan movement.  I admit that I have a strong bias against a bunch of the crap food that has come out of folks trying to be vegetarians in America.  I am sympathetic to the desire for people to do as their conscience (or health) dictates, but a lot of it seems forced.  If you don’t like eating meat, stop trying to recreate it in soy and gluten…. 

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Dishes like this are a very good reason to keep a small garden.  That way yo can be a little bit discriminating about what types of beans you cook.  Although there is a wide variety of beans to select from in the grocery stores around here, I know that this is not the case in many parts of the country.  We prefer french filet-type beans for blanching and eating fresh, but you may prefer something more strongly flavored.  In a pinch, blue lake green beans will do, but they get a little tough if they get too large.  I am really looking forward to about a month from now when beans from the garden are available.  If you have even a small area that you can till up or even a large pot, I encourage you to grow some beans.  It is easy and you will get the type you like to eat.  Baker Creek Seeds is a great vendor…still not too late to give either bush or pole beans a go…. 

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