WARNING: This is one of those dishes that tastes much better than it looks.
I put together this soup for one reason only– to play with the immersion blender that John gave me for my birthday (after months of whining about how much I wanted one.) I had seen a recipe for an Italian style chickpea soup with lots of garlic and olive oil. I liked the idea of making a comforting bowl of warm, creamy soup but thought I’d put my twist on it by playing on the flavors of a different chickpea staple: hummus. Mind you I will refrain from describing this as a big bowl of warm hummus because, well– ewwww. That just sounds disgusting.
So for this soup, I roasted a head of garlic while I sautéed carrot, celery, and onion in a healthy dose of olive oil before adding in my chickpeas. I seasoned the soup with plenty of cumin and a giant blob of tahini (roasted sesame paste) before adding vegetable stock then let the soup simmer so that all the flavors could marry. I added the soft, sweet garlic cloves right before blending the soup. My lovely immersion blender pureed the soup base into a golden color, a little on the thick side thanks to the starchiness from the garbanzo beans, so I thinned this out a little with some water and lemon juice. But let’s face it, as you’ll see in the picture below, it still looks like baby food. I then tried to make up for the look of the soup by topping it with fresh parsley, a sprinkle of crumbled feta, and crunchy croutons. A light drizzle of hot sesame oil added a fleck of heat and enhanced the sesame taste from the tahini. This was thick, but so soft in texture yet mildly spicy in flavor. Just close your eyes while you eat it. 🙂
Note: One head of roasted garlic wasn’t enough to really make the flavor pronounced, so I’m accounting for that in my ingredients list below by suggesting that this soup should have two heads of roasted garlic. If that sounds like too much to you, remember that roasting takes out a lot of the garlic flavor and leaves behind sweet nuttiness with a mild garlic backdrop so it’s not uncommon for there to be a lot of garlic in a dish when roasted. Keep this vegan by nixing the feta garnish (duh.)
- 2 medium heads of garlic, the top quarter inch cut off of both
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- Three 15 oz cans of garbanzo beans, drained
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 6 cups vegetable stock (plus more to taste)
- juice of 1 lemon
- Garnishes (optional): crumbled feta, chopped fresh parsley, hot toasted sesame oil, homemade croutons
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut two pieces of aluminum foil, about 10 inches long. Fold the foil in half lengthwise then set one head of garlic (the bottom part and the top 1/4 inch) on each piece of foil. Drizzle the garlic heads with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil each and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Fold over the foil, making sure to tightly roll up the sides so that you have two tightly wrapped foil packets. Bake for 40 minutes to one hour. Remove from oven and open up the foil packets so that the garlic can cool enough for you to handle.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Sautee the onion, carrot and celery until onion is soft but not colored, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, cumin and tahini then mix to coat the chickpeas with the spice and the tahini. Add 6 cups of vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the soup pot then puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can puree this in a regular blender, but be sure to blend only 2 cups of soup at a time and to hold the top of the blender down with a kitchen towel– fill the blender any more and the heat from the soup will push the lid off and you might burn yourself so be careful! Add more vegetable stock and/or water until soup is of a consistency to your liking. Stir in lemon juice and adjust salt and pepper to taste, then plate with garnishes.