Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Debi: Soup's On

My older daughter -- 6 year old Ronni -- and I were having a discussion this morning about bragging. She said that one of her friends scolded her yesterday for musing about whether or not she was the smartest kid in her class. Ronni explained that she had asked her teacher for help with something yesterday, and after getting it, had mused aloud that it was the first time all year that she had asked for help. Ronni said -- supposedly, just to herself -- "I never have to ask for help usually. I wonder if I am the smartest kid in the class?"

Her friend, who is quite competitive, said "Ronni, you think you're the smartest kid in our class just because you read the fastest. That doesn't make you the smartest!!!"

I told Ronni that I agreed with her friend, that reading the fastest simply makes you the fastest reader, not the smartest. I told her that probably there is no "smartest kid" in her class -- there was a fastest reader, and a speediest math problem-solver, and a most prolific artist, and a strongest ball kicker, etc. I said I knew she wasn't bragging when she asked herself that question about being the smartest, but her friend probably thought she was. Then Ronni asked me what bragging was.

I said, "Well, it would be like if I went up to all the moms on the playground and said 'I make the best soup of all the parents at our school. My soup is better than yours!' I might be right, but it wouldn't be nice for me to say it."

And Ronni said, "Yeah, you would be right."

After reiterating that second bit -- but it wouldn't be nice for me to say it -- I turned away and grinned. Yeah, I make pretty darned good soup. This year, for the silent auction at Ronni's school that benefits their artist-in-residence program, I donated "one month of homemade soup and bread" -- a delivery of a pot of soup and a loaf of bread, once a week, for for weeks, to the winning bidder. There were four separate people who bid on it -- all had either tasted or heard about my love of soup.

In the winter, we eat a lot of soup in this house. When my younger daughter, Sammi, was a baby with health problems that kept her from swallowing easily, I discovered a chickpea soup that she ate with gusto. This was nothing short of a miracle, since, at the time, we were measuring what she ate in terms of single goldfish crackers and teaspoons of yogurt. I made that chickpea soup at least twice a week for several months. We all got tired of it, and when she started eating other things, we stopped making it for a good year.

Now we're all ready again, and I have been making it regularly this winter. My family and close friends refer to it as "THE chickpea soup." The person who won my soup-and-bread auction is getting a nice steaming pot of it tomorrow. Without any bragging, here is THE chickpea soup recipe...which might be the best soup for several surrounding blocks, but it wouldn't be nice to say so.

Chickpea Soup for All That Ails You

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 bay leaf
½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley or any other green – chard, kale, spinach, etc.
4 cups broth (or 2 broth & 2 water, to taste)
1 ½ tsp salt

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook until onion has softened, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas, bay leaf, parsley, and broth. Stir well, cover & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer about 15 minutes. Stir in salt.

Remove bay leaf and, working in batches, puree soup in food processor or blender (or using an immersion blender right in the pot!) until very creamy. Return soup to pot and serve!

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