From “Love Soup” by Anna Thomas
- 1 cup dried garbanzo beans
- 2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 red or green bell peppers
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 4 ripe red tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 small hot pepper, finely chopped, or a big pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- about 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
- a few chopped fresh oregano leaves or a pinch of dried oregano
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
- for garnish: fruity green olive oil, or large croutons
1. Soak the garbanzo beans in about 8 cups water for 5 to 6 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans and put them in a large soup pot with 6 cups water, which should be enough to cover them by a couple of inches. Bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Turn down the heat and simmer the beans, loosely covered, for about an hour, or however long it takes for them to be completely tender. As always with beans, cooking time will be determined by the age of the beans. Add a teaspoon of salt and simmer another 10 minutes as the salt absorbs.
2. While the beans are cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the eggplant in a few places with a fork, place it on a baking pan, and roast it until it is soft, probably 50 to 60 minutes. At the same time, roast the peppers on a separate baking sheet, turning them as their skins char, 15 to 20 minutes. When the peppers are soft and well blsiistered, put them in a paper bag for a few minutes to sweat, then slip off their skins, remove the stems and seeds, and cut them into 1/2-inch pieces.
3. The eggplant is ready when it gives easily when poked with a wooden spoon and is somewhat collapsed and wrinkled. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool slightly, then slice it open and scoop out the soft flesh. If the seeds are dark, scrape them out and discard them. Chop the eggplant flesh coarsely.
4. While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet and saute the chopped onions with a pinch of salt over medium-low heat, until they are soft and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Add the eggplant, peppers, caramelized onions, chopped tomatoes (you should have about 2 cups), and hot pepper to the garbanzo beans and their broth. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to the onion pan and saute the minced garlic in it for 2 to 3 minutes, just until it barely beins to color. Add the garlic to the soup pot as well, along with the vegetable broth. The broth from the beans and the juice from the tomatoes should provide most of the liquid that the soup needs, but if it looks too thick – more like a stew – add a little more vegetable broth.
6. Simmer the soup, covered, for another 15 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Stir in the mint, oregano, and lemon juice, taste, and add salt and more lemon juice if needed.
Garnish each bowl with croutons and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and serve. Serves 6-8 as an entree.