Friday, May 4, 2012

Cumin-Spiked Chickpea and Grilled Veg Soup

Having regular vegetarian nights are an important route to good health. I love meat. Trust me, I really love meat. but I am also well aware of our over-dependence on it for dinner. It is very refreshing to omit the fauna and enjoy only the flora from time to time.

Then there are times where something that is 'virtually' vegetarian is called for. An example - homemade chicken broth along with nothing but beans and vegetables. Thus, my chickpea soup.

This soup actually would have fared quite well with a good proper vegetable stock. However, as things were, I have a daughter who is a bit under the weather, so I wanted to make some chicken soup for obvious reasons. The wife and I wanted something a little more exotic, so we treated the broth as a base and allowed for a little 'customization'. Here's what I did:

First make your stock. (I have instructions for stocks here, and here.) Then I simply took some roughly chopped zucchini, bell pepper and red onion, gave them a light coat in a bit of oil and salt and gently grilled them so that they got a bit of a smokey flavour and softened somewhat but weren't charred too much (you'd get soot floating in your soup). Get some grape tomatoes cooked down slightly by either doing the foil sachet in the barbecue along with the other veg or just get them in a hot oven for ten minutes or so. You want them soft and warm throughout with the skin just starting to wrinkle a bit. For the peppers, peel the skin of them if they're terribly loose, but they don't personally bother me all that much - it's just more fibre for the plumbing as far as I am concerned.  Then open a can of chickpeas and drain and rinse them (please feel free to work from dried - I prefer it when time allows). Then it's everyone in the pool: vegetables, chickpeas and fragrant broth. Bring to simmer and allow everything to infuse. Then get some cumin in there - roasted whole and bashed in a pestal and mortar would be just capital, but if you have the powdered type, a few pinches will give your soup a nice round flavour. Some smoked paprika wouldn't hurt either. Make sure you adjust for seasoning before serving. Cilantro would be ideal, but I didn't have any, so I tore up some fresh parsley and finished with a little piquant chili oil. Crumbled feta would make a nice touch if you're in to that. Enjoy with some grilled and oiled flatbreads for a nice light supper.

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