This richly spiced soup, redolent of cinnamon, saffron, and ginger, is as delicious as it is good-for-you. Two words: TRY IT.
If it seems to you like I’ve been making lots of soup lately, you’re right. Not that it’s been especially cool here, but once there’s even a hint of Fall nip in the air, I crave nothing more than a hot bowl of soup. I haven’t wanted to even glimpse a salad; give me all my veggies immersed in a comforting bowl of broth!
I firmly believe that simmering in soup is one of the healthiest ways to cook vegetables. Unlike boiling or even steaming, to a certain extent, all of the nutrients remain in the broth to be eaten along with the vegetables. And did you know that cooking actually increases the nutrients available in some vegetables, including carrots? Lightly cooking carrots breaks down the cell walls, increasing the amount of absorbable beta carotene.
This particular soup is a nutritional powerhouse. The carrots provide beta carotene, the chickpeas offer protein, and the kale…well the kale is a powerhouse all on its own. It’s rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese, and calcium. Plus, it’s one of the cruciferous vegetables proven to reduce the risk of a number of cancers as well as heart disease. Eat more kale!
But don’t try this recipe because it’s good for you; try it because it’s delicious: exotically seasoned with cumin, saffron, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, yet not overwhelming or hot-pepper spicy. And I hesitate to say this because I know my daughter’s tastes aren’t always in line with other 10-year-olds’, but she couldn’t get enough of it, even though her first look made her go, “Yuck.” But after the first bite, she was set on draining the entire bowl. We all were. Count this one among my family’s favorite recipes.
North African Chickpea and Kale Soup
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 carrots sliced or diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- generous pinch saffron lightly crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 3- inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans, drained and rinsed
- 8 cups vegetable broth or water plus bouillon
- 1 large bunch kale at least 8 cups, thick center ribs removed discarded, leaves chopped
- about 2 cups water
- salt to taste
Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.
For a delicious one-pot meal, add a half cup of uncooked quinoa with the vegetable stock.