EASY PEASY PASTA AND CHICKPEA SOUP

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Chickpeas are a true Super Food, providing a complete protein as well essential and non-essential amino acids. Small wonder they're used the world over. Adapted from a collection of quick after-work recipes, a chickpea-tomato puree provides a nice thickened base for this simple, hearty soup. No fuss. No muss. Use the lardons or omit if you want. Cheese is also optional. 

Serves 2

- I tablespoon olive oil (plus more to drizzle)

- 2 oz. lardons (optional but adds nice base flavor!)

- I medium white onion, cut into ½ inch dice 

- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced

- 3 large juicy tomatoes, rough chopped

- 1 tablespoon tomato paste

- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, rough chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or use cannellini or Great Northern beans (like the picture!)

- 2 1/2 cups store bought stock, or use your own

- 5 oz. pasta (macaroni, fusilli, orecchiette or farfalle for example)

- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced or 1 teaspoon, dried

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne

- Salt and pepper to taste

- 1 oz. Gruyere, Emmentaler or Parmesan cheese to serve (optional)

  1. Heat a medium size saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil

  2. When warm, add the lardons (optional) to the oil and saute for a few minutes to release their juices and aroma

  3. Add the onions and garlic and reduce the heat until you just hear them barely sizzle. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until they are soft and you can smell that delicious aroma.

  4. In a small food processor, puree the tomatoes, tomato paste, rosemary, half the chickpeas and 1 cup of stock (or water if you prefer). Puree should still have a little texture, but no worries if you puree too much. This is easy after all!

  5. Stir the pureed ingredients into the onion mixture along with remaining stock. Once liquid ingredients are all combined, add the pasta, bring to a simmer, cover and cook about 8- 10 minutes until the pasta is al dente. (See your pasta package instructions for the right cooking time.) Add more stock or water for a more liquid soup or to keep the ingredients from sticking, as needed.

  6. Stir in fresh thyme and cayenne and have a quick taste. Season with salt and pepper to your preference

  7. Gently stir in the remaining chickpeas (or your choice of beans) and heat through for one minute

  8. Serve in bowls with a whirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of cheese (optional)

*** For a little food-gene cross talk, throw in a handful of arugula or finely sliced kale just before serving. Bring on the sulforaphane!