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a year of greener thinking

Chickpea-and-Pasta Soup

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Round 2 of Mark Bittman’s Chickpea-and-Pasta soup was much more successful than Round 1, which could basically be described as a knockout. (The chickpeas won.)

The key to this week’s success? Soaking and precooking the chickpeas. Bittman’s recipe calls for adding dried beans directly to the chopped vegetables and water, which sounded odd to me when I first tried the recipe last week. However, at the time I wasn’t about to question a New York Times food writer and author.

Three hours later, as my hard little chickpeas rattled around in a vegetable soup that had long since turned into mush, I questioned him. But it was too late to salvage that night’s dinner.

This week I decided to try the recipe one more time. Once the chickpea problem was solved, the soup proved to be delicious. It also keeps well in the fridge, and, perhaps most importantly, is very cheap to make. (Don’t freeze this soup or any soup that contains pasta — when you reheat it, the noodles will be mushy.)

Bittman’s series of adaptable recipes for 12 different soups is a great way to become more familiar with and better at improvising soup recipes. I’m hoping to make most of them at some point over the next year!

Chickpea-and-Pasta Soup, adapted from The New York Times

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 2  chopped celery ribs
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (plus a little extra for garnish)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup small, whole-wheat pasta
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper

1. Soak the chickpeas in cold water overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a pot. Add about twice as much water as the amount of chickpeas and bring to a boil. Simmer the chickpeas for about an hour. Drain the chickpeas.

2. Place the chickpeas, onion, carrots, celery, tomato, bay leaves, chopped rosemary and six cups of water in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the chickpeas are almost tender (probably about an hour or so). Salt and pepper to taste, and then add the pasta. Cook until the pasta and chickpeas are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Garnish with a few chopped rosemary leaves.

Soundtrack: Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

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