Friday, September 10, 2010

Anatomy of a Soup

It's uncanny, really, that when Labor Day comes and goes, it's as if Mother Nature knows to turn off the HOT switch and turn on the COOL switch...
This season, once that switch turned, I had an immediate desire to make soup.

I had a chicken carcass in the freezer, ready to make stock with....some dried chickpeas and some beautiful kale....add in some potatoes and we've got a hearty soup. Last night I soaked up the chickpeas and decided that I was going to use them to make a Kale Chickpea Soup.
Both the chicken and the produce I used today came from my CSA from Stillman's Farm, Lunenberg, Ma.

Anatomy of the Soup
Step 1: Soak the dried chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should really be soaked overnight for a couple reasons. The first is to rinse away any enzyme inhibitors that might be held with in the bean. All beans, nuts and seeds have enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting or growing in unfavorable environments. A soak in water is enough to rinse them away. The second reason is to soften them up in order to shorten cooking time. After an 8-10 hour soak, here is what the chickpeas look like:
Step 2: Cook the chickpeas
I chose to cook the chickpeas separate from the soup itself. I actually used a pressure cooker to cook them up; the pressure cooker is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. By cooking foods under pressure it reduces cooking time and is notorious for softening up tough cuts of meat. I put the chickpeas in the pressure cooker with water, garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs and a touch of olive oil. You can cook the chickpeas on the stove as well, but it will just take a bit longer.
The cooked chickpeas:
Step 3: Make the chicken stock
While the chickpeas cooked, I set up a basic chicken stock with the chicken carcass, cut up onions, garlic, carrots and celery. I added water, a bit of cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a couple bay leaves. After it came to a boil the heat was reduced and impurities were skimmed away. The longer you let a stock cook, the more flavorful the it will be. I let it go for an hour and a half before straining it.
Step 4: Make the Kale and Chickpea Soup
I started the soup by sauteing minced garlic and diced onions in a bit of coconut oil.
After the garlic and onion softened up, I added in diced white potatoes and chopped rosemary and cooked them for a bit.
To that I added just enough stock to cover the potatoes.
I cooked the potatoes until softened, then I used a potato masher to mash them up and thicken up the soup a bit.
At this point, I added in the cooked chickpeas and raw kale, brought the soup back to the boil and then reduced heat to a simmer to cook kale and blend flavors.....all along the way, I seasoned with salt and pepper.....

After about 15 minutes the soup was done, and was delicious....

The heartiness of the chickpeas with the texture from the potatoes, the earthiness from the rosemary and the texture of the kale worked so well together. It hit the spot, in more ways than one.

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