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Hearty Soup with Garbanzo Beans, Quinoa Pasta, Lemon, Garlic and Mint

Dec 1, 2011

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This is one of my favorite rustic and hearty vegan soups, rich in proteins and dietary fiber. As I mentioned in a previous recipe (see Quinoa Salad), quinoa is a grain full of protein and vitamins. When combined with garbanzo beans, this soup makes a very satisfying and nutritious meal. If you can’t find quinoa pasta, I recommend brown rice pasta. If you’re not gluten intolerant, try it with whole wheat pasta. The crushed garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice and mint are all musts in this recipe. They give the soup its delicious flavor and you will want to have more! The garlic should not be cooked; it’s added at the end, mixed in with the lemon juice after the heat has been turned off. It will not be too pungent and will give the soup a wonderful taste.
Chickpeas (also commonly referred to by their Spanish name garbanzos or ceci in Italian) are a tasty and versatile legume. An ancient food, chickpeas are one of the earliest cultivated vegetables (found in the archaeological record as early as 7,500 years ago) with origins in the Mediterranean region. Well documented in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman cuisine, the legume followed the trade routes to the Middle East and farther to India. They remain an important staple in most of the world’s cuisines today. Chickpeas feature in many popular dishes like hummus, falafels and curries. A good source of protein, folate and zinc, chickpeas are also high in dietary fiber. With a delicious nutty taste and a buttery texture, they are naturally low in fat. Recent studies have shown they can assist in lowering cholesterol in the bloodstream. They are rich in antioxidants and reduce the risk of heart disease. Also good to know, the difference in nutritional value of canned chickpeas and those you cook yourself is negligible. I always have several cans of garbanzos and various shapes of dried pastas in my pantry so I can enjoy this wonderful soup whenever I want. I’m happy to share this recipe with you!

Serves 4
Preparation time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons grape seed oil
1 small onion, diced
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste) and some more to crush the garlic
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
4 cups (1 quart/32 ounce carton) organic vegetable broth, preferably low sodium
2 – 3 tablespoons tomato paste
¾ cup quinoa pasta (elbows or shells)
1 can (15.5 ounce) garbanzo beans or 1 ½ cups cooked
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of 2 medium lemons
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint
Optional: Extra virgin olive oil OR 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

1 Heat the grape seed oil in a soup pot over low to medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt, freshly ground and Aleppo peppers. Cook, stirring until tender, about 10 minutes. Do not let the onions brown.

2 Add the vegetable broth and the tomato paste to the pot and bring to a boil.

3 Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

4 Add the garbanzo beans (drain and rinse if using canned) and cook 5 minutes more.

5 Check for seasoning; keep in mind that you’ll be adding a little more salt later to help crush the garlic.

6 Turn off the heat. Crush the garlic with a mortar and pestle with a little bit of salt and add the lemon juice to the crushed garlic. If the garlic is not crushed well, it will not create the same flavor.

7 Add the garlic/lemon mixture to the soup but do not stir; add the dried mint, cover and let sit 10 minutes.

8 Stir well just before serving.

9 For an even richer soup, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil just before serving OR if you’re vegetarian, add butter to give the soup a luxurious flavor.

Enjoy!

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