Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Cook’s Illustrated remains one of my favorite cooking magazines. I like to think of it as “recipes for neurotic cooks,” or perhaps better, “recipes for the scientifically-minded cook.” Because I’m not neurotic, of course. CI not only gives great recipes, but explains how the chef experimented with several variations before arriving at the final amounts and combinations of ingredients. I love learning how and why tomato paste, for example, works well in one dish, but diced tomatoes are preferable in another. CI also offers great reviews and recommendations on gadgets and edible products, such as the best canned tunas, olive oil, or plain yogurt.

On a cold March weekend, I decided I was hungry for a nice warm soup. I wanted something a bit unusual, rather than a traditional chicken or beef soup, so I turned once again to CI. Lo and behold, I found a gem. In the April 2018 edition is a lovely Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup recipe, and this is a recipe that I will make again and again for its lovely blend of fragrant spices. In the future, I may add diced chicken thighs, but this time I opted to follow the recipe and add no meat. I used garbanzo beans that I made in my Instant pot, added roasted Anaheim and Fresno chiles, and omitted the chard. If you switched out the chicken broth for vegetable broth, it would be delightfully vegetarian, though it may need additional spices to amp up the flavor. I actually did add a bit more cumin, coriander and smoked paprika at the end, so that the flavor was decidedly North African.

The basic ingredients are sautéed onions and celery, garlic and ginger, a blend of the spices noted above plus cinnamon, fresh parsley and cilantro, and garbanzos, lentils, tomatoes, with a handful of orzo thrown in toward the end. The soup is topped with a bit of lemon juice for freshness, and you can add harissa, if you like a bit more garlic and heat.