Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This winter, Randy and I had what we called “Downton Abbey Dinner Date”.  We would record DA and I would cook a soup which we would have while we watched the latest installment, usually Wednesday evenings.  It was a lot of fun and  great to have warming soups during our coldest months. While I made a few standbys, I tried some new recipes including this one. Margaux had pinned this recipe a while back and while searching for something to cook it caught my eye. I thought it looked really good and that it would be a really quick weeknight meal. We made a number of adaptations to up the deliciousness, but still keeping fast and easy in mind.  How quickly you can make this is determined by how much you cook from scratch (chickpeas, e.g.) or how much you use canned/frozen ingredients.

Margaux says . . .

I don’t remember pinning this recipe, but I’m really glad Aunt Suzy brought it to my attention! I just made it last night and it was a hit with the whole family. My son loved that it was spicy, too…he’s very proud that he has a taste for spicy food. If you have someone in your family that is sensitive to spicy things, I would cut the red pepper flakes back to 1/4 tsp. I used fresh chard because I couldn’t find frozen in my grocery store, but I think using frozen is a great idea as a time saver, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for frozen for the next time I make this.

Ingredients

5 1/2-6 cups cooked chickpeas (four 14-oz cans or 2 cups dried, cooked)

6-7 cups chicken stock, homemade or boxed (or Better than Bouillon no chicken broth for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, small dice

1 celery rib, small dice

Swiss chard stems, diced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bay leaf

Small Parmesan rind, optional

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and  leaves cut into 1-inch pieces or 1-2 bags frozen chopped Swiss chard (see above note about stems)

Salt & pepper

Cooked small pasta – elbows, fusilli or shells, optional (we like whole wheat shells)

Directions

If using dried chickpeas, cook according to directions. 2 cups dried will produce the amount  of cooked called for in this recipe. If using canned, drain and rinse.

Combine 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup chicken stock. Using a hand or regular blender, process until the texture is like oatmeal. Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chard stems, if using, and rosemary. Saute over medium heat for 5 or so minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the pepper flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the pureed chickpea mixture, the remaining chicken stock, cooked chickpeas, bay leaf and the Parmesan rind, if using.  The amount of stock you will use depends on whether you like your soups on the thick or thin side. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves before serving.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions until al dente.

To serve, place a little pasta in the bottom of the soup bowls and ladle the soup into the bowl. Serve with baguette if desired.

Aunt Suzy says

The Swiss Chard has really been beautiful at the markets lately and it’s one of my favorite vegetables.  Really, I’m a sucker for any cooked green!  (This gorgeous bunch of Rainbow Chard is from Burning River Farm, Mill City Farmers’ Market.)  I discovered this really tasty vegetarian recipe from – big surprise! – Food & Wine, which I seem to be mentioning in every post lately.  This was another recipe that came out in my Facebook feed that screamed EASY!  And it is really easy and fast – great for a weeknight supper when you’re pressed for time.  We make this regularly and occasionally will add left-over roast chicken or sliced sausage (like andouille or chorizo) for a different spin.  A sangiovese was recommended to accompany this dish and, as usual, it’s a great match.  Margaux, what do you serve this with?  We usually have it with a salad and earthy whole grain bread of some sort.  I also like that there’s usually a little left over – makes for a great lunch.

Margaux says

I also love this!!  I’ve made is several times because it’s very tasty, easy on the budget, and literally takes me 20 minutes to throw together.  I made it again last night, and had to make it with light red kidney beans instead of the cannelini beans (which are just white kidney beans) because I forgot to buy them, and it was just as tasty, but not as pretty.  I usually serve it with a crusty bread, and last night we had it with a vinho verde because that’s what was already open, and it went well.  I make mine on the spicy side (1/2 tsp crushed red pepper), so the wine was a nice, crisp pairing to that.

Aunt Suzy says

A comment on using different beans – the original recipe said that you could use chickpeas or gigantes instead of the cannelini.  I think that any bean would be good, but the creamier the better, which is why chickpeas would be my least favorite option.  And I had to laugh when I was searching for kale recipes yesterday and saw this exact recipe except using kale!  Recently, a friend said she made this with broccoli instead of chard and loved it.  And I love the idea of serving this with a crisp white wine like Vinho Verde in the summer – really red wine is so much better when it’s cool out.  Bottom line for this stew . . . lots of options!

Swiss Chard and White Bean Stew

1-2 bunches swiss chard, depending on size (I have always just used one)

3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

2 small cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

2 small or one large can diced tomatoes

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 teaspoons fresh summer savory (optional)

Prepare the swiss chard by washing it, draining, then cutting out the stems and slicing or tearing the leaves into smaller pieces (maybe 2″ x 2″).  Discard the bottom parts of the stems that are thick and woody.  Slice the remainder of the stems into 1/2-inch pieces.

Coat the bottom of a dutch oven with the olive oil.  Bring to medium heat and add the sliced stems and garlic.  Saute until the stems become somewhat soft. 

Turn the heat up and add the chard.  Stir constantly until the chard begins to wilt.

Add the drained and rinsed white beans and the tomatoes with their juices.  You can to use fire roasted tomatoes for a slightly smokier taste.  Trader Joe’s has fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles which are delicious, but they are already hot, so don’t add the crushed chile pepper.  (We learned that from experience!!)  Stir in the crushed chile pepper and the summer savory, if using, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. That’s all there is to it, except for maybe adding some salt and pepper.

 Aunt Suzy’s Note on the summary savory:  this was not a part of the original recipe, but the grower we bought a summer savory plant from this year told us it is a perfect herb for bean dishes of any kind.  I liked the flavor it added to this dish.