Friday, September 5, 2008
Chickpea soup with porcini mushrooms
My instincts must have been right-on when I was craving soup. Not only did I get a cold earlier this week, but the weather turned pretty cool today -- at least by Indiana summer standards -- so soup was definitely in order.
This is the second impressive recipe I've tackled from Lidia's Italy. I love the book because it's packed with interesting tidbits about culture, how the regions in Italy embrace different dishes, and so on. The first recipe I tried was her beef goulash, and oh man, I could eat that every day. The recipes are fairly time-consuming, though, so thankfully that's not a possibility.
The chickpea soup with porcini mushrooms took a total of two and a half hours, from start to finish. That's key. Because the chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and the mushrooms cook for almost two hours together, so the texture becomes what Lidia describes aptly as "velvety."
I cut the recipe in half here; hers makes 12 servings, and because it's just my husband and I eating it, that was overkill. Below is how I interpreted her recipe.
Chickpea soup with porcini mushrooms (serves 6)
1/2 pound dried chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight covered by about 4 inches of cold water
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1.5 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 cup canned plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
1 pound fresh mushrooms -- I used shiitake, portabello, and white button
black pepper, to taste
optional (and I highly recommend!): some fresh parmesan, very thinly sliced
1.) Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a soup pot, along with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, add the dried porcini, and leave lid partially covered while that gently bubbles.
2.) Put the onion, celery, fresh herbs, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a food process, and proces into a paste-like consistency. (Lidia explains, by the way, that this paste is used in various sauces, stews, and soups in food in Maremma, Italy. It's called a pestata until it's browned in a skillet, at which point it becomes a soffritto. See next step.)
3.) Put the oil in a skillet, and cook the paste over medium-high heat until it starts to brown and stick to the skillet (about 4 minutes).
4.) Add the crushed tomatoes, and scrape the paste into the soup. Cook, uncovered, for about an hour.
5.) Add the fresh mushrooms and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let it continue to cook another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the broth is thick and the chickpeas tender.
6.) Pour soup into serving bowls and if using parm, sprinkle some of that on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and serve with warm crusty bread.
Today's question: What's your favorite kind of soup? I have so many... I'll have to get my Mexican corn chowder and chicken mulligatawny recipes up here someday...