Friday, February 15, 2013

Chickpea Soup with Tahini

A few months ago I came across a recipe in an Italian cooking magazine for Chickpea Soup with rosemary.  I decided to make it and, while it was good, it was not great.  I have this recipe for Chickpeas Simmered with Tomatoes and Rosemary that I like much more than I liked the soup, so I could see no need to ever make it again.

However, I did really like the texture of the soup.  A lot.  So much so, in fact, that I started to think about other flavor profiles that might complement the nuttiness of the chickpeas.  And it was hardly a stretch at all to come up with the idea of using tahini and lemon juice and making hummus soup.

When I first started to make hummus, I experimented with different seasonings - cumin, turmeric, even ginger.  But the recipe I found that worked the best works along the same principles as my preferred way of making guacamole:  keep it simple and let the flavor of the main ingredient shine.  The hummus recipe I finally settled on has chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini.  Salt and pepper to taste and a finish of extra virgin olive oil.  I decided to follow the same theme of simplicity for the soup, with a few exceptions.  I knew the soup would need a garnish that would provide some color, extra flavor and texture.  Gremolata, while not middle eastern, has the same flavor profile as tabbouli minus the bulgur and tomatoes so I was confident that it would complement the chickpeas.  Toasted sesame seeds would add a little texture and nuttiness.

It worked out quite well.  I found that an extra teaspoon of lemon juice and just a dollop of cream (really, a teaspoon is enough) stirred in just before I add the garnishes adds an extra bit of brightness.

This would make a great first course for a middle-eastern themed dinner, served with toasted pita points.  It also makes for a nice lunch. 

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Makes 4 servings

3 cups cooked chickpeas, with 1 cup of the cooking liquid*
2 Tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
gremolata, cream and toasted sesame seeds for garnish

*use organic chickpeas so you can use the cooking liquid

Heat the chickpeas with enough of the cooking liquid to cover over medium heat in a 3-quart saucepan.  Remove from the heat and puree, using either an immersion blender or a counter-top blender.   Return to the pan and return the pan to the heat.  Add the rest of the cooking liquid and cook over medium-low heat until the soup is heated through.  If the soup is too thick, add hot water as needed.

When the soup is hot, add the tahini and the lemon juice and season to taste with the salt and pepper.  Serve warm, garnished with a teaspoon of cream, about a tablespoon of gremolata, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.


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