A recipe by Mark Bittman turned me on to the idea of a chickpea soup, which until now, was a brothy creation I had not yet explored. (The ingredient has played both crunchy garnish and supporting actor, many-a-time, yet never had the leading role in my soups.) Yet, the recipe sketch for Chickpea Soup with Saffron and Almonds from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express exposed the simplicity of a garbanzo-centric pot of nutty spice and gave me the guts to try my own version. Trading the saffron for curry powder, I used a combination of slivered and roughly chopped almonds for textural interest, doubled the chickpeas and added sauteed cremini mushrooms to the broth. To finish it off: a few dashes of kickin' cayenne and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.
CURRIED CHICKPEA SOUP WITH MUSHROOMS & ALMONDS
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup almonds, slivered or finely chopped
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
A (double) dash cayenne pepper, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish
1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add onion, garlic and almonds; cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add curry powder, stirring to coat; cook an additional 2 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat olive oil and saute sliced mushrooms until moisture is released; they should be browned and soft.
3. When the onions, almonds and curry are fragrant, add chickpeas, chicken stock, sauteed mushrooms and a dash of cayenne pepper to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Using a heavy wooden spoon or potato masher, slightly mash the softened chickpeas. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with parsley as garnish.
Note: If you prefer a thicker, creamier broth, puree half of the mixture and combine with the rest. For a fully pureed version, blend the whole thing. Same soup, different consistency: