Are you a soaker, or no? With your beans, I mean. I see so much contradictory information about soaking — not to mention adding baking soda to the cooking water — that I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed at the idea of cooking up a humble batch of beans. Such simple food should not require such anxiety.*
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s just the anxiety that’s spilled over into my life, creeping in from elsewhere, from a place where it should have probably stayed. It’s just that I started doing my taxes the other day (emphatically not fun when you’re a freelancer), and then my car wouldn’t start one night (ka-chug-chug-chug-chug it flailed), and today I woke up inexplicably jittery, feeling as though my head were orbiting somewhere in the next ZIP code.
Good thing I have soup for lunch. Soup is warm, simple, and probably my favorite food. This soup is suffused with garlic and bolstered by rich beans and bean cooking liquor. I used chickpeas, because that’s what I had on hand, but white beans would be excellent, too, and in fact that’s how the recipe was originally written. Use whatever you have around. Drizzle a little fancy olive oil over the top, shave on some Pecorino Romano, and serve it up with a little dish of olives and some crusty bread.
Maybe a glass of wine, too? Go on, let the anxiety melt.
Garlic Soup with Chickpeas & Kale
Adapted from Love Soup by Anna Thomas
- 1 cup chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
- 8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 tsp. dried sage (or several leaves fresh)
- 1 tsp. herb de provence (increase the sage if you don’t have this)
- olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2-4 c. vegetable broth
- 1 small head kale, or other assertive greens, chopped
- salt and pepper
- fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Pecorino romano and fruity extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
- Put the chickpeas in a large pot along with the garlic cloves and dried herbs. Cover with at least a couple of inches of water. Set over high heat, bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender. This could take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the age of the beans. When the beans are almost tender, add some salt — at least a teaspoon.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onion over medium heat until golden, about 20 minutes. Season with salt.
- When the beans are very soft, ladle out about 1.5 cups and reserve. Add the caramelized onions to the beans and broth in the pot and use an immersion blender to blend the soup to a smooth consistency. (Or don’t — chunky soup works, too.) Add a bit more broth, if needed, to get the soup to a nice, pourable consistency.
- Add the kale and the reserved beans back to the pot and return the pot to a simmer to cook the greens until tender. Brighten everything up with a squeeze of lemon juice — I used about half a lemon, but lemons vary in acidity. Season to taste with salt and add some freshly ground black pepper and serve with shaved Pecorino and a drizzle of olive oil.
(For the record, I soak — almost always overnight, with a change of water if I think of it — and pre-cook with a pinch of baking soda.)