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A SOUP THAT DESERVES A SECOND THOUGHT

Posted Nov 11 2010 12:00am

You know the one.  That recipe in your favorite cookbook that you keep breezing over.  The title doesn't appeal to you - it's too benign - so you quickly turn the page.   Out of the 70 or so cookbooks on my shelf, ,pastedGraphic.pdf by Greg and Lucy Malouf, gets the most lap time.  There are nights I come home from a long day at work, needing an infusion of fresh inspiration, and I simply flip through this cookbook.  That’s all it takes.  It's transporting photography and carefully curated recipes gently pull me back to a place where I desire to return to the kitchen (after standing over a hot stove all day, there are times when prepping dinner doesn't sound so appealing).  Recently, while thumbing past a recipe for beyran (a slow-cooked lamp stew that is best case for simplicity I’ve ever eaten), I came upon Malouf’s red pepper soup with bulgur, chickpeas, mint and chile.  With such a humble name and short ingredient list, I've never spent more than half a second on this page.  But, for some reason, on this particular night, I stopped.  And gave it a second thought. It just so happened I had a paper bag full of smoky-sweet piquillo peppers from Happy Quail Farms .  Beside my treasured Boos block sat a basket brimming with onions and purple garlic.  A vintage mason jar was acting as a vase to a bundle of fresh mint.  And my pantry is always equipped with , pastedGraphic_1.pdf and chickpeas.  I massaged my tired feet one last time.  Then I cooked what had to be one of the most surprisingly delicious dinners I've cooked all month.   This dish is humble and hearty, simple yet satiating.  A perfect bowl for autumn's sunny but chilly days.

RED PEPPER + TOMATO SOUPInspired by a recipe from by Greg Malouf INGREDIENTS For the soup:7 ounces dried chickpeas6 ounces farro (I purchase from Anson Mills)1/4 cup olive oil1 red onion, roughly chopped1 medium head garlic, cloves peeled and smashed1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (I toast whole seeds in small skillet until they release their smell and then grind them a coffee grinder)1/2 pound fresh piquillo peppers, stemmed, seeded and roughly diced1 long green Turkish chile (or other mildly spicy chile), stemmed and finely diced1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoessea salt Four the topping:1/2 cup toasted pine nuts1 Turkish green chile, stemmed, seeded and finely diced1/2 lemon1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1/2 bunch of mint1/2 bunch of cilantrosea salt DIRECTIONS
Soak the chickpeas and farro overnight: place chickpeas and farro in a large pot and add water to cover by 4 inches.  At least 8 hours later, drain the beans and grains and rinse.  Return to the pot and, once more, add water to cover.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 50-60 minutes, or until both beans and farro are tender.  Add several generous pinches of sea salt and stir to combine.  Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot (I used a 7-quart enameled cast iron pot) over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, pepper, garlic cloves, cumin and a generous pinch of salt.  Saute until onion is translucent and pepper are tender, about 10-12 minutes over medium-high heat.  Add canned tomatoes; fill the empty tin with water and add that too.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to break down.   Meanwhile, make the topping.  In a small bowl, stir together the pince nuts, chile, the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Roughly chop a handful of mint and cilantro leaves.  Add them to the chile mixture and stir to combine. Using an immersion blender, puree the pepper and tomato mixture until smooth.  Taste for seasoning, adding more cumin or salt to suit your taste.  Add the beans and farro and all of their delicious cooking liquid; cook for 15 minutes more.  Taste for seasoning one last time - adjust as necessary. Serve soup warm with topping spooned on top.  (I also served a bowl of the topping on the table so we could help ourselves as we ate.)
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