The weather, at least in the Mid-Atlantic, has finally started agreeing with the calendar. The chill in the air makes me happy for two reasons: I get to wear fall clothes, and I get to make real soup again. Not the gazpachos and other lighter, chilled soups of summer but piping-hot, fortifying bowls.
I like it when every sip of a cold-weather soup comes with a kick, especially if I’m fighting a cold — or, the case recently, losing the battle against one. My dulled sense of taste appreciates being slapped awake, and any form of chile pepper works to ease my congestion.
Many fall soups depend on root vegetables. But one that caught my eye in the book “Smith & Deli-Cious” by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse (Hardie Grant, 2018) features red bell peppers and chickpeas instead. Some of the beans get blended into the soup once the peppers are tender, while more get roasted and go on top for serving. Stirring in a little cooked rice after the pureeing step adds even more texture and heartiness.
What I love the most should come as no surprise: It’s a generous dollop of hot sauce, giving this cold-weather soup a comforting burn.
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6 servings (makes about 9 cups)
MAKE AHEAD: The fried chickpeas can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The finished soup can be frozen (preferably without the fried chickpea garnish) for up to 6 months; defrost and reheat before adding the fried chickpeas.
Adapted from “Smith & Deli-Cious: Food From Our Deli (That Happens to Be Vegan),” by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse (Hardie Grant Books, 2018).
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3½ cups cooked or no-salt-added canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
Pinch Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
½ teaspoon cumin seed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds red bell peppers (about 4 small-to-medium peppers), stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white miso
1½ tablespoons Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 cups low-sodium or no-salt-added vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought
1½ cups cooked white rice
¼ cup loosely packed parsley leaves, for garnish
Dry half (1¾ cups) of the chickpeas on paper towels.
Pour ¼ cup of the oil into a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the towel-dried chickpeas and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and crisped, 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl. Season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pinch of smoked paprika, and toss to coat.
Wipe out the pot, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil, over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the crushed red-pepper flakes, cumin seed, black pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt; cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the bell peppers and the remaining half (1¾ cups) of the chickpeas; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender, 10 minutes.
Whisk together the lemon juice, miso, Sriracha or other hot sauce and the lemon zest in a small bowl, then stir it into the soup, along with the broth. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the flavors meld, a minute or two. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.
Uncover; use an immersion (stick) blender to puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the rice; cook for a minute or two so the rice will warm through.
Divide the soup among serving bowls. Top with the roasted chickpeas and parsley. Drizzle with a little oil and serve hot.
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