I read a lot of food blogs. There are about one bazillion of them out there and many of them are not all that good. Many of them are good. A few of them are great. It’s the great ones where I get inspired. When a dish leaps off the screen, that’s when I know it is time to make it.
When I saw this soup with the chickpea croutons, I immediately started my shopping list. I love croutons in soup and had never thought to do anything like what Allison did with chickpea flour. Brilliant, right? Sadly, they did not work out for me. I take total responsibility for the fail. I’m not sure what I did wrong – did I stir enough? too much? – but what I got was a slab of mush on my baking sheet.
Then, panic set in. My brother Michael was coming to dinner. Michael is a bike racer and has a large appetite. I knew he was coming off a long ride and would be ravenous. I wasn’t sure the soup as written was going to fill him up and so, I improvised. I very loosely based this soup on a recipe in a Jeanne Lemlin book (Simple Vegetarian Pleasures) but really made it my own with what I had on hand. I was really pleased with how the soup turned out. If you read here often, you know anything with chickpeas is a favorite of mine. The greens along with the couscous were a really nice combination. I didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand (not even parsley!) but they would be most welcome here. By the way, Michael left full.
Chickpea, Chard, and Couscous Soup
Dana Treat Original
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup couscous
1 large bunch chard, leaves cut off the stems and cut or torn into bite size pieces
6 cups vegetable stock
Crumbles of ricotta salata or feta cheese (for garnish)
Cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and the couscous and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to keep the couscous from sticking to the bottom.
Add the chard, in batches if need be, and stir well to combine. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes – enough time for the couscous to cook, the greens to soften, and the flavors to blend. Serve in bowls topped with a crumble of cheese and a few cherry tomatoes.