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Soup Swap

Fri Jan 23, 2009

Tuscan Chickpea Soup

Tuscan Chickpea Soup

Planning a wedding stinks. At least at this stage. Neal and I will have been engaged for a month (as of tomorrow), and I’ve already cried three times, gotten a migraine and fought with my folks. And I thought not having a preconceived notion about my “dream wedding” would be a good thing.

Neal and I decided we wanted a simple wedding—something like an oversized dinner party. Good food, good wine, good music and the people we love, we said, that’s all we’d need to make the day special. But apparently that’s a very tall order. Our families are huge. Venues are outrageously priced. And the extra costs associated with finding a cool site that will let you bring your own caterer and wine can be tens of thousands of dollars. The wedding planner we consulted suggested we be prepared to spend $75-90K. If we had that kind of we’d be buying a house instead of planning a wedding.

Times like these call for comfort food. And what’s more comforting than soup? Every culture has its soup recipes—from gazpacho to phở to menudo—with some combinations dating back thousands of years. Soup can be highbrow (vichyssoise), or lowbrow (potato leek). It can be made from the bones of animal, like chicken or veal stock, or the scraps of vegetables from your garden. Soup can be magical, too (think of the children’s story, Stone Soup) and restorative. In fact, the word restaurant derives from the French restaurer, a word used to describe cheap, filling soups sold be street vendors in the 18th century.

So when my friend Tracey invited me to her house for a soup swap last weekend, I was excited. We were all asked to bring six quarts of homemade, frozen soup, which we would then swap for different ones.

I had initially wanted to make a white bean soup, but with all the wedding venue hunting I didn’t have time to soak the beans, or make mirepoix for six quarts of soup—about three batches of your average recipe. So I settled on Tuscan Chickpea, a quick, easy and tasty favorite. Like the best soups, the ingredients are simple, basically garbanzos, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, rosemary and water, with a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end for added depth of flavor and acidity. Ochre-colored and a little gritty, I love this soup topped with a handful of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a big hunk of rustic, freshly baked bread.

I came home with some amazing soups, too: Joanna made a tasty chicken tortilla soup, Cami a mint and sweet pea that tasted like springtime, perfect for the warm weather spell we were having. Tiff made a chipotle tomato that had the slight smokiness of the peppers to warm you up. Krista made a hearty split pea that could give Anderson’s a run for their money (and she gets extra credit for using leftover ham that she froze after her Holiday party). Nicole made a curried eggplant soup that promises to be exotic and comforting, and our hostess, Tracey, made a white bean, sweet potato and kale soup with walnut pesto that I haven’t gotten to try yet, but am thoroughly looking forward too.

The afternoon was so much fun, talking with these women about life and soup. For a few hours everything seemed simple. Good food, good wine and good people. Maybe I’ll have a soup swap instead of a wedding.

Tuscan Chickpea Soup
from Cooking Light

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
8 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Heat a olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in water, salt, pepper, rosemary, chickpeas and tomatoes. Boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes for the flavors to come together.

Using a stick blender or a stand blender (in shifts) blend until smooth. Return to pot. Add vinegar and bring up to a boil again. Season to taste. For best results, let cool and refrigerate overnight to allow all the flavors to come together. Serve hot with a sprinkle fresh Parmigiano.

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10 Responses to “Soup Swap”

  1. Phoo-D Says:

    That sounds healthy and delicious. I love the idea of a soup swap. That would be perfect for this time of year! Hang in there with the wedding planning…trying to achieve a small guest list is NEVER easy, but in the end it is worth the effort.

  2. Leah Greenstein Says:

    Thanks Phoo-D. Any recommendations on how to get there?

  3. Julie Says:

    So bummed I missed out!! I could use a quart of soup right about now to warm me up in this chilly rainy weather!

  4. White On Rice Couple Says:

    Maybe that’s why we’re not married yet, we’re trying to avoid all the migranes!
    This soup swap sounds like a great idea! And what perfect timing to have some soothing soup during your wedding planning.

  5. Foodwoolf Says:

    I vote for cutting the guest list down to 20 and running away to Italy for a teeny tiny wedding–because you know I’ll tag along no matter what! In the meantime, every time you start to get stressed about your wedding, imagine yourself sipping away at a spoonful of your hearty soup!

  6. dawn Says:

    Love the idea of a soup swap! Did all the soups freeze well? I am going to make this soup above tomorrow. Looks very easy.

    I am sure you will find the perfect venue. Sometimes it just takes time, that’s all. If there is anything I can do let me know.

    I’ll let you know how the soup turns out. d

  7. Knox Gardner Says:

    We’d love to post more about your Soup Swap to encourage others to try it at soupswap.com.

  8. KF Says:

    You must have met with the same SF wedding planner we did — a woman who talked of $300-per head catering and $80k budgets for a ‘typical’ San Francisco wedding.

    Huh? Is that the only way to roll?

    We chose to go to Mexico. But if you want budget-conscious ideas for the Bay Area, I’ve got tons (as a former wedding photographer). Just hit me back on email, or tell me when you’ll be at K&L, because I have wine to pick up there at least once a month.

    Cheers and congrats!

  9. Caroline Says:

    I do a soup exchange each winter. It is SO nice during busy times to come home and find it waiting for you in the freezer!

  10. joe88 Says:

    I really liked the quality of the food. I love eating the food.

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