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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Quick & Easy Chickpea Soup

This soup seriously takes 20 minutes. If nothing else, you should make it for that reason alone. I had a few people stop by the other day unexpectedly and nothing to make for them. What I did have though was a pantry full of junk and luckily a few fresh herbs. My choice was obvious, it was soup time. That right there is why I love soup, you can literally make it out of anything! Soup lets you step up and be the boss; direct it, own it. Tweak it to your hearts desire. 
When I was making this I got to a point where I thought, "Ok, that seems good, I'm done!" And then I tasted it [....meh...]. It was just ok. It didn't beg me to eat it, did not sing to my soul, I could hardly even pick out any distinct flavor in the pot. So was I going to let my soup push me around? Oh hey nah! All I had to do was fill in my blanks; ask myself, 'what is this missing?' and then adjust it until I wanted to gobble it up. And that's exactly what happened. Bam. 
Journey with me, I'll show you...
Sort of Spicy Chickpea Soup: (Serves 4) *Derived from Pam Anderson for Food & Wine 
**Food processor or blender needed! 

2 Cans of Chickpeas (19oz.), drained
1 Can light coconut milk (13ish oz.), go ahead and get full fat if you wanna get crazy
1 Can whole tomatoes; reserve liquid and quarter the toms
1/2 c. Crispin Honey Crisp Cider, reduced over low heat to 1/4 c.
Cilantro! As much as you want, but 1/2 c. as a guideline
4 Green onions, finely chopped
1 c. or so Chicken/Veggie Stock
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
Greek Yogurt to top
Salt & Pepper and other things to taste

1) So I don't know if you can tell yet, but I've intentionally left out a ton of ingredients to force you to
    interact with this dish. Go put your chef pants on, we're doing this together.
2) So just start off by gathering everything you need: Get your cider on the stove and cook it down
    really slow until it's reduced by half. Chop your onions, tomatoes, pull off a bunch of your cilantro,
    open your cans and measure your spices (to start anyway).
3) So souper simple (had to..); toss in your chickpeas, coconut milk, tomatoes and sauce, spices
    cilantro, white parts from the green onion and cider into the food processor and blend it until
    smooth. Now I had to run mine in two batches because my machine is just too small, that's ok,
    just make them sort of even amounts and then transfer the blended batch to a soup pot.
4) With the heat on low-med, add in your stock and heat the soup up till it's hot enough to eat.
    Great. Now taste it. What does it taste like to you? Anything? What do you want it to taste like?
    Should it have more zing?
5) Let's add. Salt and pepper first. Whenever you're adding anything outside of a recipe you'll
    always want to start small and work your way up. It may take longer, but once it's in there you
    can't take it out. Now I'm not exactly suggesting that you work pinch by pinch, but no more
    than 1/4 tsp. full a time or less.

    Ok, did you get the salt and pepper? Good, what else? Some people may want to stop here, this
    may be enough for you and that's great, garnish and eat up. I was not so pleased yet though,
   the soup tasted flat to me. I wanted zip and zing, full and rich flavors. Here's what I added:
    -Orange Juice (I was out of lemon, this worked great)
    -Hot sauce, Tapatio! My personal fave
    -Ginger infused vinegar (apple cider would work well too)
6) So why? Why did I choose those things? For the first three listed there; acid. Acid is the zip and
    the zing in food. It activates our saliva glands and gives us that 'give me more' reaction. I chose a
    fruit acid because it has a bright and fresh flavor to it that would match the bright fresh flavors
    from the cilantro. Hot sauce for the tomato and vinegar based acid properties as well as a little
    spice to liven things up. And finally the ginger vinegar to further drive home that spicy, bright,
    ginger flavor and to further drive up the acid profile. Does that make sense? I hope so. Try
    saving a little bit of the original soup to compare apples to apples when you feel like you've
    reached a good acidic base.

    In the end I probably had put about a tsp. of Tapatio, 1/4 c.-1/3 c. of OJ, and maybe about 1/4c.   .
    of vinegar. Cumin I added to boost the spice from the Garam Masala (look on the label, it's
    already in the spice mix), I just wanted more. And nutmeg to bring a bit of earthiness back into
    the soup to interact with the chickpea base.
7) When you are happy with your soup, ladle it up and top with some yogurt (or sour cream)
   the greens from the onion as well as a little more cilantro. If you want to thin out your yogurt you
   can mix it with a little bit of the Honey Crisp to smooth it down. I did this and it was a nice
   addition to re-state that the apple flavor was in the soup. Yay! Now give yourself a high-five or a
   nice pat on the back, you did it!

I hope that I didn't bog you down with too much stuff, I just saw this as a perfect example for the easiest way to learn how to trust your taste and learn to ask questions about what you're making. The more you ask the more you can answer and the more you will learn about food and cooking. Food is fun! And when you gain the confidence to push it around instead of letting it manhandle you, it's a lot easier to remember that :)

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