Garbanzo Bean Soup

I tried to make this recipe in time for the snowstorm that blanketed all of my American friends over the weekend, but alas, as I am no weatherman, I didn’t make it until Sunday and have been sitting on it ever since, unsure of what to say about it.

I’ve been excited about this soup for weeks.* In the throes of the Holiday Almanac project, when all I wanted was to cook something that wasn’t a dessert, the thought of this soup sustained me. ‘Just make it til January,’ I told myself, ‘and then you can eat garbanzo soup stewed with a ham hock and a pinch of saffron, spiced with chorizo and a whole lot of herbs, delicious and hearty and warming and cosy.’

But then I made the soup (first step: determine where to procure a ham hock in this town), and it was only… well, meh. The first round of it included a dried chorizo sausage, which, upon being boiled in soup, rendered all of its fat, leaving the broth oily and tasteless. The chorizo, though, was optional, so I tried again sans chorizo, with extra garbanzo beans and less potato, and even threw in a handful of greens I had on hand, and the result was super tasty.

So I’m including the second version below—it’s tasty and since it needs to simmer for several hours, it’s a perfect weekend dish when you can fire up the slow cooker or put a pot on a low simmer, then wash all the dishes you dirtied while prepping it. By the time it’s ready, your kitchen will be sparkling, and, if you’re anything like us, you can curl up with a steaming bowl of soup, a glass of red wine, and a new episode of the X-Files while you watch snow flurries tumble by the window onto the street below.

*I feel it's only fair to tell you that at least 40% of my excitement over this soup came from the fact that the first ingredient literally says '1 pound dried garbanzos,' and then has a tiny arrow with a note that reads 'they look like tiny hazelnuts.' I just love the idea that you might not know what chickpeas are, but you DO know what a hazelnut looks like. What?

The verdict:

3 spoons out of five. It’s delicious (when made as below), but I’m deducting 2 spoons for the fact that the first version of the recipe required me to boil a chorizo. Plus, I have really high soup standards. But major props to this soup for filling the house with an amazing roasted pork smell, and also for making so much soup that I will likely never have to make soup again. I’ve frozen half of it (a solid 4 servings), and still have enough left for 4 hearty servings. Make this when you want a cosy winter meal that’s low maintenance, tasty, and filling—aka every time you’re stuck in the house during a snowstorm.

The recipe:

Garbanzo Bean Soup

the directions:

Wash beans, then soak overnight.
Wash well the next morning, then set aside.
Place the ham hock in your crockpot or a large saucepot, then cover (barely!) with cold water.
Add beans and start cooking slowly over low heat.
Meanwhile, cut up onions, garlic, and green pepper and saute in olive oil until just softened.
Add sauteed veggies, bay leaves, and saffron to the pot and continue cooking slowly.
When beans are al dente (after several hours in a crockpot or a couple hours over low simmer), peel and chop the potato and add it to the pot.
Turn heat to high and allow to simmer until potato is cooked.
Season with salt and pepper and let simmer until thickened, adding water if liquid levels get too low, but remember that it should be very thick.
Once potatoes are cooked and beans are tender, serve with a nice glass of red wine and enjoy!

the ingredients:

1 pound dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas), make sure to use dried beans and not canned
2 pound ham hock
4 large onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
Pinch of saffron threads
1 large potato
Salt & Pepper to taste