Berbere Spiced Vegetable and Garbanzo soup
When I teach classes at Bob's Red Mill here in Portland, the emphasis is on vegetarian and gluten-free recipes showcasing one or more of Bob's excellent products. For this soup, a play on Italian minestone, I've chosen chickpeas as the legume and protein. (For a gluten-free version, I recommend Banza brand chickpea pasta in fusilli or rigatoni shapes.) When legumes, pasta, loads of vegetables and ground or shredded meat--if you choose--are combined, the result is a complete meal. (Classes at Bob's Red Mill are vegetarian, so this recipe doesn't include an animal protein.)
Berbere is an Ethiopian chile and spice blend used in many of the country's native dishes. The chickpeas and ginger in this soup complement berbere's flavor profile, but almost any spice blend you like--espelette pepper is a favorite of mine--including ancho or chipotle chiles, or an Indian curry blend, add tremendous flavor and definition to the ingredients in this soup.
Make 2 quarts
6 ounces dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or 1 can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 medium sized carrot, cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 stalks celery, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice
1 small leek, white only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Salt to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 quarts chicken or Vegetable stock
2 tablespoons berbere or spice blend of choice
1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 medium zucchini, cut into bite-size pieces
6 to 8 spears asparagus cut into 1/2-inch lengths on a bias
1 cup cooked small pasta, such as ziti, penne or macaroni
3 ounces (about 3 cups, loosely packed) spinach, roughly chopped
Cook the beans covered in salted water over medium heat for 1 hour or until soft.
Heat the olive oil in a 3 to 4 quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, leeks and 1/4 cup water, season with salt, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for two minutes. Add the stock, Berbere Spice, ginger, zucchini, asparagus, cooked garbanzo beans and pasta. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer, cook the ingredients to warm through and adjust the seasoning with additional salt if needed. Drop in the raw spinach leaves and remove the pan from the heat when they're wilted, about 2 minutes.
Serve right away, in warm bowls with grilled bread.