November 21, 2013

Lemony Chickpea Soup with Parsley and Cumin

Eating this soup forever reminds me of one of my favorite things about home cooking, the throw-together masterpiece. Most days, I plan for dinner a little in the morning, soaking beans, grating ginger, or chopping an onion to stash in the fridge. I like the rhythm of it, but I also face my share of oh-crap-I-forgot-to-even-think-about-dinner days. I take a deep breath and start hacking at vegetables at 6pm, not exactly sure what will appear on the table, but sure that it has to appear there soon.

This soup began as one of those harried improvisations. I had some cooked chickpeas in the fridge, and skinny frozen green beans that I was curious to try in a soup. I started tossing veggies in my pot, then decided on a whim to conjure up a Middle Eastern flavor with smoky cumin, bright lemon, and fresh parsley I snipped from the garden. I simmered and stirred and read a few picture books with Darwin, and when I returned to my soup pot for a taste off the wooden spoon, my (frenzied!) efforts were richly rewarded.

We've enjoyed this soup at family dinners many times since I took that first, delightful sip, and now I'm happy to share the recipe with you. Enjoy it just like this, or with a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

Lemony Chickpea Soup with Parsley and Cumin
30 minutes
Serves 6

1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 red potato, scrubbed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
2.5 cups cooked chickpeas
2/3 cup chopped fresh or frozen French green beans
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed
juice from half a lemon
1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste

Sweat the onion, carrots, and celery in a few swirls of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat, about five minutes.

Add the garlic, fry for one minute, then add red lentils, chickpeas, potato, dried spices, salt, and four cups of water.

Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are completely softened and breaking apart like a thick stew.

Add the green beans and parsley and simmer only a minute or two more, until green beans are just tender.

Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and ladle into serving bowls.

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