Soup Season

Colder weather has arrived for us here in the mid-Atlantic, and with it two of my favorite cooking pastimes: roasting vegetables and soup. While there is nothing to stop a person from roasting or souping during the warmer months, my air conditioner consistently loses the battle against my oven and/or stove, and so these are pleasures I hoard for days when the leaves crunch underfoot.

I basically live on soup during the fall and winter. I’ll typically make a double batch of something every weekend and freeze some of it. Last winter, I lived off recipes from Appetite for Reduction—a low-fat vegan cookbook that rocked my taste buds.

This season, I started off with the thought of roasting whole eggplant (a first for me), and it sent me down a rabbit hole I was delighted to visit. A good friend of mine has been extolling the virtues of homemade baba ghanoush, so that was my first idea. (It was a good one, by the way…and very easy. I heartily endorse it to anyone who thinks they might like eggplant, and even anyone who believes they don’t but understands they may be mistaken.)

But what I really want to talk about is what I found opposite the baba ghanoush recipe I used. A simple recipe (only three ingredients(!): roasted garlic, vegetable broth, spinach) for something called Ten Mothers Garlic Soup. I was intrigued and so I tossed some cloves of garlic into the oven to roast alongside the eggplants. I also jiggered with things to make it more substantial, and what I ended up with is something so ridiculously easy and tasty that I forecast it will be on regular rotation for the next several months.

Roasted Garlic Chickpea Noodle Soup
adapted from The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman

2 heads garlic*
olive oil
5 cups of vegetable broth (you can use chicken broth if you swing that way)
4 cups chopped spinach (tough stems discarded)
15-ounce can of chickpeas
4 ounces of whole wheat pasta (I used rotini, but other shapes would work just as well)

To roast the garlic, leave the skin on but snip off the heads of each clove and spray or drizzle each with a bit of olive oil. Wrap the garlic in foil (or cover the top of the baking dish with foil). Roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.

Once the garlic has cooled down enough to handle comfortably, squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin into a soup pot. (You might want to mush it all about to break up any cloves that retained their shape during roasting—this will help the garlic incorporate into the broth.) Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 15 minutes so that the broth becomes infused with the garlic flavor. Add the chickpeas and pasta, continuing to simmer until the pasta is cooked through (about 10-15 minutes, depending on the type of pasta used). Add the spinach and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until wilted.

*If you’re a garlic lover, or just like flavors to knock you over the head, I could see using three heads of garlic. Just be careful not to talk too closely with anyone before very thoroughly brushing your teeth šŸ˜‰

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