Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chickpea and Lettuce Soup

I have had the majority of 2 heads of lettuce sitting in my fridge waiting to be cooked into something tasty. However, I'm not much of a salad person. So what on earth can you do with that much lettuce? Luckily, I found this Chickpea and Romaine Lettuce recipe. I also had all the ingredients- it was fate!

I read the recipe a few times and decided I'm going to make a few changes. I have some celery that is nearing the end of its shelf life, I only had one tomato so that was just going to have to work, and I'm trying to add more protein in my diet so a chicken breast would supplement the chickpeas nicely.

I start prepping the ingredients. Chop up the onion, celery, and tomato. I measure out the spices: turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. They are such lovely colors! I was going to take a picture but I spilled the garlic powder over other colors... not so pretty. I've never used turmeric before and I was excited to try it! I defrost the chicken (1 chicken breast, about 20 minutes soaking in cold water before it was soft-ish) and diced that up. Wash and slice up the lettuce into ribbons. Now, I'm ready to cook!

Add the onion and celery into the pot, let it get a little soft, stir in the spices, then add in the chicken.  Now I didn't really know when to add the chicken, but it seemed right. It could absorb the spice flavors, release some of its juices into the bottom of the pot, and be able to saute instead of boil. Once the chicken was mostly cooked I mixed in the tomato and let that cook up for a few minutes.

Then I added in the broth and water and let it cook for a few minutes, then added the lettuce. I dropped several handfuls of lettuce into the pot letting it wilt into the soup. The soup had a nice kick to it (in an Indian food spicy way, not a salsa way) and the broth was a nice rich yellow-y orange color. The lettuce was similar to a cabbage rather than a kale or spinach. I'd make the recipe again and try it with those other green veggies.

I actually had a lot of broth left in the pot that should have been doled out.
The recipe calls for cooking the pasta in a pan, saute style, then letting it cook in the soup for a few minutes. I don't like soggy pasta and made enough of the "base" for several meals so I cooked the pasta separately in an amount that I would be eating for that meal. If I'm bringing soup to work I'll bring rice (rice doesn't get mushy like pasta does...) in a separate container, heat soup and rice up, then combine before eating. That's just me though, I know it doesn't bother most people... :)

Note, I like my food a little spicier, the amounts I used are in parenthesis, but start little and add more. You can always add more, its much harder to take out the spice.

Chickpea and Lettuce Soup
Makes 4 servings

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped (1/4 onion)
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp garlic powder)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (1/2 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (3/4 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (1/2 tsp)
1 chicken breast
2 plum tomatoes, chopped (1 tomato about the size of my fist)
2 cups drained and rinsed canned chickpeas (one 15 oz can)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups water (2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound vermicelli, broken in half
1/2 head romaine lettuce (about 2/3 pounds), shredded (about 5 cups)
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion, let it cook, add seasonings (approx 5 minutes), add diced chicken, stir some more, stir in the tomatoes (approx 5 minutes)
  2. Add the chickpeas, broth, water, and salt. Boil then simmer.
  3. Cook pasta according to instructions (at the same time as step 2)

Happy eating!

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