Smokey Chickpea Potato Soup

img_3127I’m on a mission. A mission to get people  to spend more time in their kitchens. Please don’t run away screaming just yet! Hear me out. We demand a lot from our bodies – vitality, energy, a healthy weight. We likely invest time and money in insuring our bodies against illness and ageing – gym  memberships, anti-aging products, yoga, meditation. Yet we are afraid of spending time in the kitchen. Think about it – we are constantly hearing messages about time-saving recipes, convenience foods, short cuts, prepared meals and so on. So much so that we have become averse to our appliances and all that equipment languishing in our cupboards. We drag our feet and protest against cooking, citing long lists of priorities. But preparing food is at the basic level of self-care. We should, in fact, be running towards our kitchens  instead of away from them. Cooking more is one of the ways, perhaps  the most important way, we will be able to resolve so many of our food and health issues. When we prioritize cooking for ourselves and our families, we declare that taking care of our bodies through whole, nourishing meals consumed at our dining tables in the company of our loved ones matters.

Now I get that spending more time in the kitchen doesn’t mean spending ALL of our time in the kitchen. We still want easy to prepare recipes that aren’t going to send  us on a wild goose chase trying to track down unusual spices. There is a time and place for that, and I do admit that I enjoy spending my time unearthing exotic foods and perusing aisles of newly discovered markets. But recognizing that’s not everyone’s cup of tea and with the mission to get people to cook more in mind, I decided to create a recipe that is made with simple ingredients and requires only fundamental cooking skills. In fact I challenged myself to create a recipe with items I already had on hand!

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Soups are really at the very centre of convenience cooking. One pot, a bunch of familiar ingredients and a few spices to add flavour and flair, and a bit of idle time. That’s it. This soup contains potatoes, an often vilified vegetable (probably for its incarnations as chips  and fries) but actually delivers a bunch of nutrients in a pretty convenient package. One medium potato with the skin on provides a third of your B6 and a quarter of your potassium and vitamin C needs as well as 15%of your daily fibre requirement. Carrots add colour and beta carotene and chickpeas stand in as the filling, fibre-rich protein source. Despite usually being relegated to decoration, I added parsley as much for its flavour as for its surprising nutritional punch: a quarter cup of chopped parsley provides a quarter of your vitamin C and almost 300% (yes you read that right) of your vitamin K needs. Vitamin K is a powerful fat-soluble vitamin that is involved in the  blood clotting process, so you know, you don’t bleed to death!! Thank you vitamin K *gives high  five*.

As always, this recipe is plant-based but can be enjoyed by everyone. As with many soups and stews, this one tastes even better the next day – so perfect for leftovers! What is your favourite quick and easy to prepare meal that you often cook for yourself and your families?

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Smokey Potato Chickpea Soup

Makes 6 servings

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons avocado or extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon smoked paprika, hot or mild

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning*

3 medium potatoes, skin left on, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 5 cups)

3 carrots, peeled, sliced into rounds or half moons (about 3 cups)**

6-7 cups water

1 (19oz/540ml) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste

1/2-3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.       In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

2.       Add the smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, Italian seasoning and half of  the salt and pepper to the pot and stir for about a minute until fragrant.

3.       Add the potato, carrot and water, stir to combine. Increase heat  to high, bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and carrots are just fork-tender (be careful not to overcook!)

4.       Finally stir in the chickpeas and parsley, and adjust salt, pepper and seasonings to your taste.

 *If you  don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, just use any combination of thyme, oregano, basil, dried sage and rosemary.

**This soup will thicken as it stands (especially overnight), add extra water to thin it or just enjoy as is. I used 6 cups of water.

 Tips:

-I  add the onion and garlic to the pot off the heat as I chop them. Once I have all the other ingredients prepared, I add the oil and turn on the heat.

-I chop the parsley and rinse the chickpeas while the soup is simmering, to cut down on prep time.

-If this recipe leaves you with a bunch of leftover parsley, use it in salads, pasta and rice dishes, smoothies and sprinkle extra on the soup before serving.

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Quick and Delish Summer Dish

Hello dear readers. It’s been a while. Too long. But here I am again, for better or worse!

I spent this beautiful, perfect summer day waiting around for the internet guy to finally reconnect me to civilization. He showed up 15 minutes before the 4 hour window they gave me as my appointment time was up. Anyone else think this practice is ludicrous?? Hey, I’m coming over for dinner. When? Oh, I don’t know, sometime between 4 and 8. Anyway. I’m almost over it.

So I did what any other food lover would do with spare time. I cooked. Now, I’m not the type of person that is particularly averse to cooking in any sorts of weather, but it does occur to me that most people don’t want to spend oodles of time in the kitchen when the sun is blazing outside. And so here is a quick little number I pulled together in about 20min or so with ingredients I had on hand. When I execute these spontaneous acts of cookery, I like to think in groups. Nutrient groups, food groups, deliciousness groups, whatever you want to call it. Here is what I aim to include in a nourishing dish I concot on the fly:

Veg – anything goes! the possibilities are essentially limitless
Whole grain – my faves are quinoa, millet, rice, gluten-free pasta, sweet or white potato (while not technically a grain I throw the potato in this category for it’s starchy nature)
Protein – beans, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh, nuts, seeds

Pick something from each group, add the magic of flavour (spices, herbs, tamari, miso, citrus juice and zest, oils, vinegars, broth, condiments…I could go on). And there you have it.

Millet, Greens and Legumes in Miso Sauce

1/2-1 cup dry millet (see cooking instructions here)

a whole whack of kale, washed, large stems removed, chopped in bite-sizeish pieces (the more the better, this green cooks down A LOT)

1 cup frozen peas

1-2 cups beans of your choosing (I used leftover chickpeas and broad beans that I had in freezer, you can use canned or store-bought frozen)

For sauce: whisk together 2 Tbsp of miso paste (I used the white variety), 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp maple syrup, a dash or two of hot pepper sauce of you choose, and about 2-3 Tbsp of water

Heat a teaspoon or two of sesame oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, add kale and a few splashes of water and let it hang out until wilted and getting tender (a few minutes). Use tongs to move it about. Add frozen peas and beans, cook until defrosted. Add sauce and let it all come together for a minute or two. Add millet (I used 1/2-2/3 of the amount that 1 cup of dry millet cooked up…will use leftovers in salads, soups or breakfast porridge). Stir it all together, the millet will absorb the delicious sauce.

Enjoy! Preferably with a cold beer.

Happy lazy summer days,
ilona

PS No picture. The beer made me sleepy.