Tomato Soup with Roasted Fennel and Chickpeas

Tomato soup with roasted fennel and chickpeas

I love community supported agriculture (CSA). For a couple of dollars each week, I get fresh, local produce that is in season, and I support my local economy. It also forces me to diversify my cooking and to be creative. For example, this past week we received savoy cabbage, kale, a fennel bulb, spinach, lettuce, carrots, and one lonely beet. The savoy cabbage and carrots were destined for Asian Rotisserie Chicken Salad (a recipe from http://www.CookSmarts.com). The spinach and lettuce are destined for green smoothies. There are numerous options for the kale. But what to do with fennel and a beet?

Fennel and a beet
What do you do with a fennel bulb and one beet?

I searched through my pantry for inspiration and came up with this idea for a soup made with the fennel, the beet, the kale, and a couple of pantry staples.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium beet
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas, drained
  •  3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (32oz) carton low sodium chicken stock (vegetable stock would work also)
  • 1/2 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Trim any stalk from the beet. Coat the beet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon of each). Wrap the beet in aluminum foil and put it in the oven. The beet should roast for 45 minutes to an hour, which is plenty of time to make the rest of the soup.

Toss the chopped fennel and the diced onion with two teaspoons of olive oil. Spread the fennel and onions evenly on a jellyroll pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 12 minutes. Stir the fennel and onion mixture and roast for another 5 minutes. Stir the vegetable mixture again and add the chickpeas. Roast the fennel, onions, and chickpeas for 10 minutes.Roasting the fennel like this really helps mellow its flavor. Remove the pan with the fennel, onions, and chickpeas from the oven, but let the beet continue to roast.

While the beet roasts, heat a tablespoon of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil together in a 6-quart dutch oven over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add in the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. The garlic should be a golden brown, but not burnt. Add in the dried chili flakes (you can add more if you prefer a spicier soup). Cook for an additional minute, then stir in the crushed tomatoes. Add in the balsamic vinegar. Let the tomato mixture cook for 3 minutes, then gradually stir in the chicken stock. Add in the lime zest and lime juice, the dried oregano, and the dried basil. The lime zest and juice adds a brightness to the soup that enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Add the roasted vegetables and chickpeas to the soup. Turn the soup down to low heat and let it simmer while the beet roasts. Once the beet has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and let it cool 10 minutes. Once cool, peel the outer skin from the beet, chop the beet, and add the chopped beet to the soup.

As a quick snack, I stole a slice of beet and put it on a Melba toast with a hunk of Mizithra cheese. Not a bad little snack to enjoy while the soup cooks.

Beet and Mizithra
A quick bite of beet and Mizithra on toast

Return the soup to medium heat and add the chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper).

Tomato soup with roasted fennel and chickpeas
Tomato soup with roasted fennel and chickpeas

Once the kale has wilted into the soup, it is ready to serve.

A bowl of soup full of CSA vegetables
A bowl of soup full of CSA vegetables
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Chickpea Curry with Arugula

I’m always on the lookout for healthy, affordable, vegetarian recipes. This is a great vegetarian meal that goes together quickly, uses White house pantry staples, and tastes even better for lunch the next day.

I modified this recipe slightly from one I saw in Everyday Food: Quick Chickpea Curry. Since we don’t typically keep cinnamon sticks on hand, I substituted a few shakes of ground cinnamon. Instead of curry powder, I used Balti seasoning from Penzys Spices (so good and flavorful). I may have doubled (or tripled) the amount of garlic (that’s how I roll).

I served the chickpeas over a bed of cilantro rice and arugula. To cut the spiciness of the seasoning, I topped the whole dish off with a dollop of plain yogurt. Flavorful, fast, and delicious – my kind of weeknight dinner.

Chickpea Kuri Curry

I wanted to branch out a bit and try a couple of new things, so a couple of months ago I tried to plant Jamaican pumpkin, blue Hubbard winter squash, and red kuri squash in the garden. Sadly, my attempts failed. So when I saw red kuri squash at New Leaf Market, I had to try it.

Not entirely sure what to do with the red kuri squash, I took a hint from the vegetables moniker and decided to make a kuri curry. With inspiration from the Quick Chickpea Curry recipe in the Everyday Food Magazine (January/February 2010), I made several modifications to make the recipe my own.

Red Kuri Squash
Red Kuri Squash

To get started, thinly slice one medium onion and mince four cloves of garlic.  Saute the onion and garlic in about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until the onions become translucent.

Onions and Garlic
Onions and Garlic

Dice the red kuri squash into 1/4 inch cubes and saute the squash, onions, and garlic over medium heat until the squash is soft, about 7 minutes.

Kuri Squash and Chickpeas
Kuri Squash and Chickpeas

Once the squash is soft, add two cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas, four tablespoons of ketchup, 1-1/2 teaspoons of Penzy’s Balti seasoning, one teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. I like the taste of the Balti seasoning, but your favorite curry powder would be a g0od substitute.  Stir to combine.

Penzeys Balti Seasoning
Penzeys Balti Seasoning

Add two cups of water and bringthe mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer the mixture until thickened, about 25 minutes. In my opinion, the dish almost resembles baked beans when it is ready.

Simmering Curry
Looks Like Baked Beans

To make the meal a bit more substantial and to provide more color, I served the curry on a slice of pita bread with two handfulls of baby arugula. I added a dollop of plain greek yogurt to add some creaminess and cut the heat from the Balti seasoning a little bit. The unique bite of the Balti seasoning (it’s not like any other curry powder I’ve ever eaten) with the mellow, almost nutty taste of the squash and the texture of the chickpeas (which hold up well and do not get too mushy from the cooking) make the chickpea kuri curry a great use for the winter squash that refused to grow in my garden. I did save some of the seeds from the red kuri squash and I hope to be making this dish again next year with red kuri squash from my garden.

Chickpea Kuri Curry
Chickpea Kuri Curry