Spicy with garlic, chili and thyme; earthy with chickpeas; tart with spinach or kale; sweet with onions and tomato – this soup has a lot of flavor interest and really hits the spot on a cold, winter day. Add some Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese at the bottom and it’s almost like a French onion soup – only better (and more healthy!).
Note: There is no need to seed tomatoes – the seeds contain compounds that can fight heart disease and stroke – they will be able to reduce the risk of blood clots by 72% according to research from Rowett Research Institute in Scotland.
Makes about 12 cups of soup
1½ cups dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (or use one can of chickpeas in a pinch)
1 medium red onion, diced small
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely minced, or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small chili, tasted and ground, or ¼ teaspoon chili powder or 1 teaspoon paprika
4 large tomatoes, very ripe, peeled and chopped (or 2 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sherry (I use red wine)
8 cups cooking liquid, from chickpeas,
vegetable stock or juice from canned tomatoes
1 bunch of spinach (or kale), stems removed and leaves finely chopped (you can use kale or chard as well - any nice, green, leafy vegetable)
Salt & freshly grated black pepper
Some Jarlsberg or Swiss cheese to put at bottom of bowl and then pour soup on top
- Soak chickpeas overnight. Cook them with at least 4 cups of water for 3 hours or more until soft (or pressure cook for 20-30 minutes). Be sure NOT to put in any salt until later, after the beans are soft.
- Cook the onions and thyme in the olive oil over a medium flame until the onion is soft.
- Increase the heat and add the garlic, chili (or paprika), tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, sherry (or wine). Stew for 15 minutes
- Add the cooked chickpeas and the 5-6 cups of liquid - add more if needed as the liquid evaporates – from the chickpeas, stock or water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to let the beans absorb some of the flavors.
- Add the spinach (or kale) leaves (cut small enough so they don’t dangle out of the spoon when eating) and cook 5 minutes more.
- Check for salt and add pepper to taste.
- Place some cheese at bottom of bowls and ladle soup on top.