Do you have a best friend? If so, what does that mean to you? Is it someone who has seen you through a rough patch? The friend you have known the longest? A person you talk to each and every day? What makes your best friend best?
I was always the person with a few close friends, not lots and lots of acquaintances. I preferred it that way. I would rather spend an evening with someone I really know than the first-date feeling of a casual acquaintance. But somehow, I have found myself with many amazing friends – real true friends. All of whom I really know, all of whom I would love to spend an evening with. They come from different parts of my life – high school, camp, college, previous jobs, PEPS groups, preschool co-op, kids’ friends, etc. It is a big circle. But, if pressed, I do have to say that there is one “best” in there.
Lauren and I don’t talk everyday and I don’t see her nearly as often as I would like, but we have a strong and special bond. We have been friends for 15 years. She is a talented, creative, beautiful, smart, funny woman. She is a straight-shooter and also very compassionate. She is extremely loyal and supportive. Just about everything you would want from a best friend. I have been lucky enough to share many meals with her and her amazing husband John over the years. Because I have an incredible memory for food (but not for, say, where I left my keys), I remember so many of the dishes we have made for one another. She made this soup for me a long time ago and I have been meaning to make it ever since.
When I tasted this soup, it was a revelation. How could something that took next to no effort and with so few ingredients taste so complex and delicious? I asked her for the recipe, she made a copy for me, and then it sat in my soup notebook for oh, about ten years. No exaggeration. I would notice it from time to time and think to myself, “I’ve really got to make that soup”, but it never seemed to fit into a menu I was planning. Now that I have made it, I will be planning menus around it.
I tweaked this recipe a bit. The original calls for 2 tablespoon of soy sauce giving low-sodium as an option. I use tamari in my cooking and WOW! did it make the soup salty. And brown. Fortunately, as the beans cooked, I had to keep adding more and more water so by the time I puréed it, the savory balance was just right. I will suggest you use one tablespoon and add more to the finished soup if it needs it. If you don’t want to garnish with peanuts, roasted sliced almonds would be nice. You will want a bit of crunch in there.
The cooking time for this soup will depend on how fresh your dried beans are. Start with 8 cups of stock or water, you might need to add more if the soup gets too thick.
1½ cups dried chickpeas
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely diced
8 cups vegetable stock, or water
1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 tbsp. Tamari or other soy sauce
¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Soak dried chickpeas in water to cover overnight.
Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add chickpeas, vegetable stock, hot pepper sauce, and soy sauce. Cover loosely and simmer until chickpeas are tender, anywhere from 1-3 hours. Purée soup either using an immersion blender or a conventional blender (be careful when blending hot liquids). Sprinkle each portion with chopped peanuts and cilantro.