Thursday, August 23, 2018

On the MENU this week Sopa de Garbanzos (Moorish Chickpea and Spinach Soup)

Given the cold and thankfully wet winter we are enjoying, Lynne took a risk and planted a pot full of spinach. No, not chard, real spinach. It was needing a first harvest of rain-drenched leaves, so she went searching for a suitable recipe. The weather has been SO cold for Cape Town and soup is again on the menu. This is from the Casa Moro cookbook, a favourite in our household, by Sam and Sam Clark in London
400 g home cooked chickpeas (see below) or 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained – 1 pinch of bicarbonate of soda - 150 ml extra virgin olive oil – 300g fresh spinach, washed and well drained – 75g white bread, crust removed, cut into 2 cm cubes – 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced – ¾ of a teaspoon cumin seeds – 2 heaped tablespoons of fresh, roughly chopped oregano – 1 small dried chilli, crumbled – 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar – 700-800 ml water or chickpea liquor, or a mixture of the two – 60 threads of saffron, infused in 4 Tablespoons of boiling water – ½ teaspoon of sweet Spanish paprika – sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
If using dried chickpeas, place them in a bowl with plenty of cold water and a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and leave to soak overnight. Drain in a colander, rinse well, then place in a saucepan with half an onion or 1 head of garlic. Cover with 2 litres of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming off any scum, for 1 to 2 hours or until soft and tender. (Lynne: it’s so much easier to open two tins!)
Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and add 1.5 Tablespoons of oil. When hot, add the spinach with a pinch of salt and stir well. Remove when the leaves have wilted and are just tender. Cool then chop quite finely and set aside
Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the bread cubes until golden brown all over, then add the garlic and cumin seeds. When the garlic begins to colour, add the oregano and chilli, and continue cooking until the garlic is brown. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or food processor with the vinegar and mash to a paste. Now put the bread paste into the saucepan, add the drained chickpeas, water, saffron infusion and paprika and simmer for 10 minutes. Whizz the chickpeas until almost smooth (we prefer a little bit of texture to the soup). Return to the pan if necessary and season with salt and pepper. If the consistency is too thick (a bit thicker than double cream is right) add some more water. Stir in the spinach until it too is hot. Check seasoning and serve

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