Sunday, April 10, 2011

Recipe 45: Syrian Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Tahini

New England Soup Factory Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes from the Nation's Best Purveyor of Fine SoupMaybe you heard about it, but I just got back from Egypt.  When faced with the prospect of cooking for a potluck last week, all I could think about fantasize about (honesty is the best policy, guys) was Middle Eastern flavor and food. Originally I had planned to make pita to go along with this recipe, but seeing as it was a week night and apparently pita making requires some measure of preemptive strategery, it just didn't happen.  The soup did happen, and my mouth and yours will thank you.  I used the recipe from my pretty pretty New England Soup Factory Cookbook (my favorite place to get a cheap dinner when I worked at the Public Library of Brookline and somewhere I still visit when I'm over there for Shelf Respect, speaking of food fantasies...).  It was delish!   

Every self respecting soupluvr should do themselves a favor and buy this cookbook along with the requisite Le Creuset, dutch oven, or giant stock pot.  Because allow me help you out with one thing:  the recipes in this book?  They are generous, and that is a vast understatement.  You can feed a small army.  This is the only recipe where I've been worried about Blue's volume capabilites.  Seriously, the soup came within a centimeter of the top!  Assess the biggest, and I mean biggest pot in your kitchen, and then find one a size bigger if you have any doubts.  

The cookbook suggests serving this with pita chips and even provides a recipe.  We served it with nan, and it was delish.  I think any sort of flatbread would accompany this soup well and would delight in being dipped in to both the soup and your drooling mouth.  Though I preferred it hot, this soup seems to taste good both hot and cold, and what with all the brightness of the lemon and scallions, it is a really nice spring soup.  I should also warn you that by virtue of being a huge recipe this soup takes a long time to cook and does require some planning ahead of time due to the need to soak the dried chickpeas.  If you are pressed for time, I would imagine using a pound of canned, drained, rinsed chickpeas would be a find substitute.

One other thing.  Dear NE Soup Factory Cookbook: WHERE DOES ONE FIND DRIED MINT?  I assure you it does not exist in the constraints of a grocery store.  Maybe it does in a specialty spice shop, where I bet those jerks are holed up with their stash of dried mint, laughing at me.  I went to three grocery stores; three including a super super market,  a Whole Foods, and a posh but little grocery store specializing in weird overpriced posh food.  None of them had any!  I settled on using some full stalks of regular mint and removing the stems later before blending.

On to the recipe! 

Syrian Chickpea Soup with Lemon and Tahini
(via New England Soup Factory Cookbook with minor alterations)
Feeds a small band of Revolutionaries


1 pound dried chickpeas
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts vegetable stock (you can use chicken, but I was feeding vegetarians)
2 lemons, juice and zest
1/4 cup tahini paste (sesame paste, you may need to go to a specialty store or Whole Foods)
4 to 5 stems of fresh mint (or 1 tsp dried mint leaves if you know someone who knows someone who has a dried mint stash)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 can (15 or 16 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of scallions, minced
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Soak your dried chickpeas in a bowl or pot deep enough to have the water cover the chickpeas by at least two inche.  Do not be alarmed or add more water; they will appear to absorb most of it!  Place your vessel in the refrigerator and soak overnight or at least 8 hours; drain before you use them. 
  2. Heat oil in your giant, giant stockpot over medium high.  Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and saute for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the soaked chickpeas and all of the stock, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer for approximately 1.25 hours or until the chickpeas are soft and tender (this may take closer to 1.5 hours).  If you are using fresh mint, at around the hour mark add your stems to the pot. 
  5. Add the lemon juice and zest, tahini, red pepper flakes, corriander, and dried mint if you were enough of a lucky devil to find some.
  6. Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in batches using a stand blender until the texture is smooth.
  7. Add the canned chick peas, scallions, salt, and pepper and stir until well incorporated.
  8. Serve to your adoring band of Revolutionaries with some nice warm flatbread. 

1 comment:

Bean said...

and it sure was yummy!

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