Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No Croutons Required: Score One for Soup

I might be longing for spring, but I'm still seeking out winter warmth in soup... When the chill wind chases you and a bag of groceries (or two... or three...) into the house, a bowl of soup can remind you that there really is still warmth in the world - if not in the air outside!

Down here in the South, we aren't exactly used to winter weather... In the uncharacteristically cold winter we're having this year, I'm trying not to notice just how many layers I need to wear when walking out the front door, and instead focus on the wonderful opportunity for fixing soups! I was especially excited, then, when Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen introduced me to her terrific blog event, No Croutons Required, with this month's perfect theme of vegetarian soups! I especially love how Lisa requested submissions of "a soup that even the most carnivorous diner would drool over," perfectly highlighting the incredible versatility of vegetarian dishes for everyone. And since I'm all about tasting and savoring everything with everyone... what better excuse to combine chickpeas, one of my favorite ingredients of all time (and a complete power-horse of protein and fiber and flavor), with a couple of my favorite spices, for a bowl of hearty goodness?

Oh yes, and this simple, intensely flavorful, healthful, filling, vegetarian and vegan soup did indeed garner the official seal of approval from the two intensely carnivorous guys at the table... I beleive their exact response was a slightly muffled, mouths-full, "mmm... wow... good... really good..."

Score one for soup.

Chickpea and Spinach Soup

2 T olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. turmeric
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
10 oz baby spinach leaves
1 cup arborio rice

~ In a small pan or rice cooker, cook the rice according to package directions.

~ Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onions for 5 minutes - until limp and transparent.

~ Add the garlic, and saute for one more minute.

~ Stir in the chickpeas, crushed red pepper, broth, cumin, tumeric, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover until the rice finishes cooking.

~ When the rice is cooked, add the rice to the soup pot, cover again, and continuing simmering.

~ 1/2 hour before you're ready to serve the soup, stir in the spinach. Cover again and simmer for that last half hour... then... Soup's ready! (See it steaming?)


Greg said...

This is so colorful. I would devour that. All my favorite ingredients.

Oh, we're having a heat wave. It's up to -9 this morning. A far cry warmer from yesterday's -28.

Bellini Valli said...

This soup looks so comforting...perfect for the event. I could have used some last night watching the lunar eclipse :D I have tagged you for a MEME. I know there are a lot of these going around lately, so just check out my own answers when you have a moment. It is always nice to know a little more about our fellow blogging friends.

Lisa said...

Beautiful entry! Thanks for participating in our event. The roundup should appear tomorrow.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Yum! I don't care if it's not cold down here... I still think that soup looks superb!

The Columbia Foodie said...

Such a great to incorporate some nutritionally packed ingredients!

anya said...

Astra, your soup is a winner!!!

Oh, I love your new banner!

Cookiemouse said...

This is a soup I must try out. Like your new header too.

Ricki said...

What a great combination for soup! I love the inclusion of spinach--and yours looks so fresh and colorful.

Also, thanks for your comment on my blog! I'm also glad that it brought me here--there is so much I can relate to in your blog, from the health-oriented recipes to your background (though mine seems to be the opposite--grew up as a carnivore and then went veg!). I've bookmarked your site and will definitely be a regular visitor.

Astra Libris said...

Greg, thank you! They're some of my favs too... :-) -9??!! Oh wow, you are brave... and I though it was cold down here... You are A-mazing for running outside in that weather!

Valli, thank you so much for the MeMe tag, and the kind words on your blog! You're too sweet! The MeMe is so much fun - my MeMe post is coming soon! Thank you again! btw, the lunar eclipse sounds incredible!

Lisa, thank you, and thank you for hosting such an incredible event! The round-up is positively delectable!

ChocolateCoveredVegan, thank you! And could you send some of that not-cold weather my way, pretty please? :-p

ColumbiaFoodie, many thanks! 3 cheers for nutrient-dense foods... I've been thinking about your post on slow-foods as I prepare a myriad of soups lately...

Anya, thank you soooo much - on both accounts!! :-)

CookieMouse, I hope you enjoy the soup - I'm delighted that you're going to give it a whirl! :-)

Ricki, thank you so much for visiting! Many thanks for your lovely comment, as well... I quite agree - as I was reading your blog, I was nodding along and thinking how familiar many of your your words and experiences seemed! :-)

VeggieGirl said...

what a wonderful entry for the "No Croutons Required" event - so delicious and nutritious!

Astra Libris said...

VeggieGirl, thank you!! :-)

TBC said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog.:-)
What a lovely soup! Really healthy too.