African Chickpea & Spinach Soup
I have been craving soup for a couple of weeks now and this weekend I finally had an opportunity to get into my kitchen and try a new recipe. I am not a fan of canned soups, as most are either loaded with sodium or bland tasting and the majority of soups I’ve tried from restaurants are absolutely delicious, but have waaaay too much sodium and fat. I’ve decided to clean up my diet a bit and adjust my eating habits so I need something light, but satisfying for my lunches at work and soup seems the perfect thing.
I would love to take credit for this soup, but alas, I cannot. I was thumbing through old magazine and ran across this magnificent recipe in the March 2007 issue of Vegetarian Times. Though I am not a vegetarian, I love practically all things veggie. Always have, always will, and this healthy, brightly colored, creamy soup combines some of my favorites — chickpeas, spinach, onions and tomatoes. The chunky peanut butter thickens the soup, adds texture and its nutty flavor marries particularly well with the exotic flavor of the coriander, and the red chili powder (or cayanne pepper) adds a nice snap.
I adore chickpeas and have used them for many years — for making hummus, in salads, in Indian curries and by themselves with a bit of olive oil, freshly grated parmesan cheese, sesame oil and fresh lime juice. This delightful soup is relatively quick (about 30 minutes) and very easy to make and as with most soups and stews, it tastes even better the next day after all of the ingredients have had a chance to meld together more thoroughly. It’s certainly a welcome addition to my chickpea repertoire.
Though this is a vegetarian recipe, I can easily see adding sliced grilled chicken breast to it to make it a complete meal for non-vegetarians.
African Chickpea and Spinach Soup Recipe
Source: Adapted from Vegetarian Times, March 2007
Serves 6 to 8 | Vegan
Mise en place:
4 tsp. olive oil
2 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 4 cups)
4 large cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tbs.)
1/2 cup natural chunky peanut butter, no added sugar, preferrably fresh ground
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, reduced sodium
2 tsp. sweet paprika (not the hot kind)
3 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. red chili powder* or cayenne pepper
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, low sodium, rinsed and drained
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes, reduced sodium
1 6-oz. bag baby spinach, chopped (about 6 cups)
Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt
Blend peanut butter and 1/2 cup broth in blender to make smooth paste. Blend remaining broth into mixture.
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add garlic, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more, or until garlic is lightly browned.
Add paprika, coriander and cayenne to onion mixture, and sauté 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Stir in peanut butter mixture, chickpeas, spinach and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and simmer about 10 minutes more.
*Use a red chili powder, such as Chirag, which has heat. Do not use the kind used for making chili and Mexican dishes; it will ruin the soup. Chirag can be found at Indian specialty stores and in the international section of most large supermarkets.