How do you feed the soul along with the body?
Comfort foods somehow feed our bodies while making us feel protected and warm inside. They feed our soul along with our body. What is it about comfort foods that make them so satisfying at all levels? For me it’s food that nourishes, teases my tongue and somehow reaches the child inside me, the child that wants to feel protected.
When my daughter was feeling ill with a lingering cold a few days ago, she asked me to make a soup that I had made about 6 months ago with tomatoes and chickpeas (garbanzo beans to some people). I remembered the soup and how tasty it was, especially with the addition of lime juice. But I could not remember where I found the recipe.
With a few hundred cookbooks in my home and tens of thousands of recipes on Pinterest, you may not be surprised that a single recipe could be hard to find again. Yet, surprisingly the memory of a recipe is usually tied to another memory of its source. In this case, however, I tried looking in all the usual places, without any success. So, I decided to try to recreate this healthy tomato chickpea soup using some of the recipes found along my search as inspiration.
North African inspiration
Most of the recipes I looked through seemed to be one version or another of harira, a traditional soup in North Africa, namely Morocco and Algeria, served daily during Ramadan as well as other times of the year. Harira generally consists of tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas, herbs and spices, lemon juice as well as vegetables, chicken, beef or lamb. In short, harira meets all the criteria of comfort food. It nourishes and sustains people during their month of fasting.
The tomato chickpea soup recipe below however is only loosely inspired by harira. This healthy vegan soup contains no lentils or meat and uses lime instead of lemon juice. Of course, if you prefer adding any of these items into your soup (replacing the lemon juice for the lime juice), go ahead. Soups should always inspire the chef to create something new using the ingredients at hand.
The final result for this tomato chickpea soup? A yummy, comforting and healing soup for my daughter to help her overcome her cold.
A year later, I was feeling congested as if I was coming down with a cold. I wanted to attack the cold head on before my guests came to eat over the weekend. A few friends were coming for dinner Saturday night and then family was expected on Sunday morning for brunch.
I generally followed the recipe below, except I omitted the celery and added a knob of fresh ginger and a piece of turmeric both minced finely, as well as about four tomatillos quartered. For the liquid, I added some leftover V8-style juice and some water to replace some of the vegetable broth. After tasting the soup, I left out the fresh lime juice as the flavor was just perfect. The tomatillos give a little sour taste that replaces some of the sourness you would get from the lime juice. You could of course add some lime juice in your bowl if you like.
I add this postscript to my earlier post to encourage you to try your own variations. There is no one way to make this soup. I provide this recipe as an inspiration whenever you need to combat a cold or seek warmth and nourishment.
Don’t wait for an excuse to make this soup. It would be comforting to you whenever you need it. And it only takes about a half hour to prepare from start to finish!
Share this recipe with your friends and please leave your comments below. Spread the comfort.
Loosely inspired by the Harira recipe in the book Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant
Tomato Chickpea Soup
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 450 g onion
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 potato small
- 1 garlic large
- 2 tsp turmeric ground
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ground (see notes)
- 2 tsp coriander seeds ground
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
- 800 g tomato whole canned or equivalent fresh
- 2500 ml vegetable broth (see notes)
- 450 g chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- 1 zucchini large
- salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp lime juice (2 limes)
- coriander - cilantro (cilantro) chopped (see notes)
- 3 tbsp hot sauce (optional) (see notes)
- Chop the onions, celery, carrots, potatoes and red peppers into small pieces.
- Pour the olive oil in a large casserole over a medium heat. When the oil's hot, add the onions and celery. Continue to cook the onions and celery for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.
- Add the chopped carrots, potatoes and red bell pepper as well as the spices and continue to cook about 5 minutes longer stirring regularly. In the last minute add the minced garlic clove.
- Add the tomatoes, zucchini and vegetable broth. Continue to cook until the vegetables are almost tender.
- Mix in the chickpeas, (hot sauce), salt and pepper and cook a few minutes. Add the lime juice and adjust flavors. Turn off the heat.
- Add chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) on top before serving.
- add more cayenne or replace it with some chili flakes or chopped chili pepper. Be careful however not to substitute 1:1 as chili flakes and chili peppers give more heat than ground cayenne pepper. Chili pepper should be added early enough so it gives full flavor to the soup.
- adjust the amount of salsa that you use, if you do. There are so many kinds of hot sauce ranging from mild to very hot. For my soup, I used some leftover red enchilada sauce so the quantity mentioned above is for this kind of mild spicy sauce. The red enchilada sauce rounded out the flavors really well. If you want to be more traditional, try finding some harissa (a North African red chili pepper paste). You will need to reduce the quantity used or else the hot sauce will overpower the flavor. You want to enhance, not overpowre, the flavor.