Friday, March 11, 2011

Artichoke and Chickpea Soup

This is kind of embarrassing to admit: the only soup I ate willingly before college was my mother's vegetable soup.  It's possible this was because the only other soups I was exposed to were the tasteless, greasy and nasty ones I had as a kid at school (which, in retrospect, were orders of magnitude better than most US school lunches but that's a topic for another post). When I got to college I was faced with limited vegetarian options and forced to expand my horizons. That's when I discovered the existence of all different kinds of soups that were -- gasp! -- as good as my mother's.

Years after this revelation, I've become a soup fiend. While I'm an unconditional fan of all types of soups --(non-dairy) creamy, earthy, brothy, hearty-- I especially adore those that are a meal unto themselves. The soup I made tonight, a version of the Marjoram-Scented Artichoke and Chickpea Stew in Robin Robertson's "Vegan Planet", definitely fits that bill. The potatoes and chickpeas give it some heft, the wine and marjoram make its broth incredibly flavorful and the tender artichokes give it some tang. I decided to add a lonely sweet potato I had in my cupboard and its sweetness gave the soup another layer of flavor. I present to you a delicious meal that sticks to your ribs, warms you up from the inside and can be made in a single pot. 

Artichoke and Chickpea Soup
Adapted from Robin Robertson's "Vegan Planet"
Makes about 4-5 whole meal servings
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large orange or red bell pepper (although the world will not end if you use a green one), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3/4 lb / 340 g / 2 medium red or white potatoes, diced into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 lb / 110 g / 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 14 oz / 400 g can of artichokes, drained (which should yield about 8.5 oz / 240 g) and quartered
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g can chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
1.  In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Toss in the onion and saute for 3 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, celery and bell pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about another 5-7 minutes.
2. Stir in the marjoram or oregano, bay leaf, wine and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the red or white potatoes. After 5 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and cook for another 10 minutes.
3. Mix in the artichokes and the chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve hot, maybe with a nice glass of white wine and a hearty piece of toasted bread.

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