Cooking! North African Chickpea and Kale Soup
March 15, 2010 by Kathy
So this is a little bit different for me–cooking! I have never been much of a cook; I am passable in that I can follow a recipe and end up with an edible, and often delicious result. I am trying to cook more often these days. I won’t lie, cooking is not normally the most joyful activity for me. So, I am trying to teach myself to love cooking. Trying new recipes keeps cooking at least a bit more interesting, and I was pleasantly surprised this afternoon at how documenting the process made it more enjoyable. So, steel yourselves for my newest cooking endeavor:
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced or diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
8 cups vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon)
1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped (at least 8 cups)
about 2 cups water
salt to taste
Spray a large saucepan with olive oil spray and heat it. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.
Part of the adventure in this dish for me was the Kale. Prior to tonight, I had never tried kale before. I had always heard that it was a bitter green, and my palette is not partial to bitter flavors at all. Still, it seemed worth a try. And oh my gosh, let me tell you, I am completely a kale convert! I tasted a touch of the greens raw while I was tearing it up, and I did not find the flavor overly bitter or spicy. It was crisp and quite yummy! So yay for a new green!
This soup was incredibly easy to make; not much active cook time or chopping.
I like this picture of the carrots all peeled and ready to go. I know that there is always great debate whether or not to peel carrots before cooking. Personally I prefer my carrots peeled; I think that they cook up a bit more tender and sweet, but that may be entirely psychological. If I make this recipe again, I will add more carrots, I think.
Some of the easiest chopping ever. I love to make soups, but chopping is such a hassle. This soup really only requires the carrot and onion to be chopped, which was a breeze.
The kale soaking in cold water. As I had never used kale before, I had to do some quick reading up on it before I cooked with it. It took a couple of baths in the cold water before all of the grit was removed from its curly little leaves. I also chose to tear the kale rather than chop it; I found tearing it much easier.
Yummy spices! This recipe called for quite a combination of spices. Don’t they look pretty?
Full discolsure, I used chicken rather than vegetable broth, which made the soup decidedly un-vegan, but that was what I had on-hand. I also ended up using an extra can of garbanzo beans, as I love them more than I can say. Did you know that the word for chickpea in Latin is “Cicero?” Yes, like the famous Roman statesman and orator. It most likely would have been pronouned with hard “c’s” in ancient times, more like “Kikero.”
The soup was very tasty, and I will probably make it again. Of course, there were leftovers (my favorite) and I hope that the flavors will blend even more as the soup relaxes in the refrigerator!