Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 42: Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

According to The Best Soups in the World this soup is called potaje de Carteya, or "soup from Nueva Carteya", which is a small town in Spain's southern region.  Evidently Swiss chard and chickpeas are favorites of this region.

This dish reminded me more of a stew than a soup.  It was full of vegetables and legumes with very little broth.  The broth was subtle but very flavorful with the addition of the Sherry vinegar, and I'm crazy about spinach and Swiss chard in soups.  I wasn't crazy about the sauteed-bread-in-the-soup part though -- it was pretty mushy, and didn't really do much to enhance the soup either in taste or bulk   Perhaps it would have been better to use day old bread instead of fresh.  The chickpeas were tender with a mild nutty taste that really complemented the greens. I think we'll make this one again.  Paul and I really enjoyed it.

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup
The Best Soups in the World
Yield:  5 to 6 servings

Two 15 ounce cans cooked chickpeas (3 cups) with its liquid
1 pound Swiss chard, heaviest part of the stem removed and washed well
3/4 pound spinach, heavy stems removed and well washed
4 large garlic cloves, 3 finely chopped, 1 sliced
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound white part of Italian or French bread, cut into small cubes
1 long mild green chile (such as peperoncino or Anaheim chile) seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
Salt to taste
3 tbsp good quality sherry vinegar

     In a pot, cook the chickpeas in a cup of salted water and their own liquid over medium heat until softened, 20 to 30 minutes.  Keep warm.
     In another pot, place the Swiss chard and spinach with only the water from their last rinsing, cover, and turn the heat to high.  Once the water is bubbling and the greens are a little wilted, cook for 2 minutes.  Drain the greens, chop coarsely, mix with the sliced garlic, and set aside.
     In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the chopped garlic, bread, chile, and paprika and cook, stirring, until the bread is golden.  About 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pour in the vinegar.  Once the vinegar has evaporated, mix the chickpeas, greens, and cooked bread together and serve.

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