As we turn the last page to the 2020 book we wish had never been written, “soup for the soul” sounds like an elixir we need. After such a wretched year, I think we could all use something soothing, healing and wholesomely satisfying. Something that goes down and makes us feel good. Whenever I’m in need–and we are in need–soup is the dish that delivers a healthy dose of comfort. It’s easy to make, generally requires one pot and it mostly cooks on its own.
Since we’ve all hit our limit of cooking–which we have done more of in 2020 than we ever thought possible, soup is doable. It doesn’t stretch the budget or pose too daunting of a culinary task. It can come together in about an hour which makes it easy to make at the last minute. And because we have likely been indulging in desserts more than in previous years, savory is the sane food of choice.
While many soups call for the kitchen sink of ingredients, this soup relies on two main staples that might be in your pantry. Chickpeas and coconut milk. Together with yellow onion, lots of garlic and ginger, these two simple ingredients become something sublime when they mash and marry. Part Thai, part Indian, this soup is generously dusted with turmeric (it’s a natural anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants and has anti-cancer effects) and amped with a jolt of red pepper flakes to make it ever so slightly spicy. Vegetable broth thins the coconut milk to make the loveliest, silkiest soup.
As the chickpeas break down, the soup thickens naturally. After reading the reviews of this seemingly famous soup created by Alison Roman of the New York Times, I tweaked it a bit to accommodate the consensus. I cut back on the coconut milk and opted to add two cups of chopped cauliflower to give it a bit more texture and substance. Alison’s addition of tossing a few handfuls of fresh greens right before serving brings a punch of color and nutrients.
Hearty and Healthy Soup for the Soul
The second day, this soup was even richer and more flavorful than I imagined possible. For so few ingredients, this soup seriously delivers. Pair it with brown rice and a salad for a nourishing meal to kick 2020 in the butt and welcome 2021 with genuine curiosity and anticipation. Armed with this good + good for you oh-so-simple soup, I am feeling a bit more hopeful about 2021 and what’s in store.
Worst case? We will be eating a lot more of this soup and that’s not the worst news we have had all year. Not by a long shot.
Cheers to you and your good health in the New Year!
Spiced Chickpea and Cauliflower Stew with Coconut and Turmeric
How can something so simple--chickpeas and coconut--be so utterly sublime? The addition of onion, garlic and ginger helps and a dusting of turmeric and red pepper flakes makes it even better. I added two cups of chopped cauliflower to give it more heft. But it's the combination of rich coconut milk softened with just enough vegetable stock that makes this soup eat like a symphony. Smooth and hearty, this soup will surprise you and it will likely stick. Knowing it can be yours in less than one hour, makes it a cherished new staple in the soup recipes file.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 2-inch piece fresh ginger peeled or finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt divided into 1/4 teaspoons
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cans chickpeas drained and rinsed (this is 3 cups)
- 1 1/2 cans full-fat coconut milk 15-ounce cans
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups cauliflower chopped or shaved
- 1/2 bunch Swiss chard or spinach, kale or collard greens stems removed and chopped
- 1 cup fresh mint or cilantro chopped, for serving
- full-fat Greek yogurt for serving
- toasted pita or lavash or flatbread for serving
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and stir to combine, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. (Note: turmeric is most effective when paired with black pepper, so be generous)
Add the turmeric, red pepper flakes and chickpeas and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the pot and some more pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, so the chickpeas sizzle and fry a bit in the aromatic spices and oil until they start to break down and get browned and crisped, about 8- 10 minutes.
Then remove a cup of chickpeas and set aside for garnish.
Using a wooden spoon or potato masher, crush the remaining chickpeas slightly to release their starchy insides as this will naturally thicken the stew. Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth and stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer, scraping any bits that formed on the bottom and sides of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until the stew has thickened, about 30-45 minutes. After cooking for 15 minutes, add the chopped cauliflower (you want small pieces of cauliflower like the size of the chickpea so they cook evenly) and stir. Cook for another 15 minutes or until it's the thickness you want in a stew.
Add the greens and cook until wilted and softened, about 3-7minutes, depending on the green you are using. (Swiss chard and spinach will melt quickly, but kale or collard greens will take a little longer.)
Taste the stew for salt and pepper, adjusting if needed.
When serving, top bowls of stew with a tablespoon of the reserved chickpeas and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Then sprinkle with chopped mint or cilantro. Serve with a scoop of brown rice or lavash bread or similar for sopping.
Refrigerate any leftovers. When reheating, add a little water or vegetable broth to thin it out as it will be thick.