When the Soup’s Good, We All Win


During sporting events and large international competitions you often see sports reporters interviewing breathless, grinning athletes moments after they have completed their game or routine. After the scowling judges have conferred or the teams have shaken hands the reporter will ask some form of the question, “how did you feel about your performance today?” At this point the ice-skater or football player – chest heaving and, in the case of the skater, hair still perfect – uses the little brain power remaining after the grueling exercise just undertaken and says, “At the end of the day, you just have to put in your best; I went out there and I gave it my all.”

Now we know how they feel.

In response to this week’s recipe challenge on Food52 (which I hope someone reveals with an Iron Chef flourish at some point in the process) my partner-in-crime put together a soup she thought we should try. Ad-libbing as we went, tasting and testing along the way, we succeeded in creating a thing of magic. If a spunky woman sat down next to me after the meal and tipped a microphone in my face I would have responded, “we went into that kitchen today and we gave 110%, and at the end of the day it paid off.” I would have said it with the same uncontrollable smile, out-of-breath from the effort (of devouring my soup). When I think of it even now I feel a warm glow of satisfaction. The soup reached a perfect creaminess but contained an edge of heat, and the spices granted it an unexpected depth. The chickpea croutons were crisp, crunchy, salty; the lemon juice, just a smart spritz before serving, added a tartness that brightened the flavor.

So whether our contribution is recognized for its genius or not, we have learned that the key to pride is in the sense of having put it all out there on the field. We have both tasted victory.

Seriously, try the recipe below. It’s a damn good bowl of soup.

Ethiopian Spiced Chickpea Soup (First We Eat)

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Berbere (Ethiopian Spice Blend)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh ginger, chopped
  • 3 Cans chickpeas, well rinsed
  • 4 Cups chicken broth
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh ground pepper

Heat olive oil and butter in a cast iron pot. Add onions and cook until soft, a few minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and berbere and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down and the onions are translucent. Add the chickpeas and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once your soup has reached boiling, simmer and add fresh ground pepper. Blend with an immersion blender until your soup has a creamy texture and there are no big chunks left. Serve immediately.


Chickpea “Croutons”

  • 1 Can chickpeas, rinsed well
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Berbere (Ethiopian Spice Blend)
  • 1 Tomato, diced small
  • 2 Sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse chickpeas and dry with paper towel on a cookie sheet. Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and berbere and spread into an even layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy.

Combine crispy chickpeas with fresh diced tomato, chopped cilantro and serve over the creamy chickpea soup with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

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