For my father’s 60th birthday back in 1973, I made this incredible Turkish Moussaka that was cooked in a Charlotte mold, with a lamb stew stuffing and served with a tomato coulis. It was unmolded for serving and was both stunning and delicious and I swore NEVER to make it again because it was soooooooo much work! For some reason I was thinking about that dish on a nasty day when I was stuck inside and decided to search for the recipe. I thought that I recalled it coming from one of the 12 years of bound Gourmet Magazines that I had inherited from my mother. I started looking through 1973 and did not find the recipe for Turkish Moussaka; however, I did find an article with recipes for soups from Spain. Several looked delicious and I plan on working my way through them, but this Chickpea and Spinach soup from Catalonia also sounded easy so I decided to start with this one. Catalonian cuisine borrows a little from the French across the Pyrenees, Valencia to the south, Aragon and the Mediterranean. I mostly followed the recipe but I did make a few tweaks of my own. I will garnish this with the traditional hard-boiled egg and parsley and will serve it with a good toasted farm bread and an aged Manchego cheese. There is so much spinach in this dish that you don’t even really need a salad, but having one never goes amiss. Of course, you should also serve this with one of the many hearty Spanish red wines that are both affordable and delicious.
Potaje de Garbanzos y Espinacas adapted slightly from Gourmet Magazine, February 1973, p.28-29
Yield: 8 to 12 servings, depending on if this is a first course or dinner
1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Do not use canned beans here. There really is a difference in the final texture of the soup.)
1 quart of stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 quarts of water
2 dried or fresh bay leaves
2 small dried red peppers (I used Arbol. Choose a pepper according to your tolerance and preference for heat. Ours is minimal.)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons EVOO
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
28 ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1 pound of fresh spinach, well washed and coarsely chopped unless you are using Baby Spinach
For the Garnish
1 hard-boiled egg per person if serving as dinner, chopped or sliced
2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish
EVOO to drizzle
- Drain the chickpeas. In a large stockpot, bring the stock, water, hot peppers, thyme, salt and drained chickpeas to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
- In a skillet, saute the chopped onion in the EVOO until it is soft. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon or by hand. Cook the mixture for 3 more minutes.
- Add the tomato mixture to the chickpea mixture and simmer the soup for 30 minutes more until the chickpeas are tender but not mushy.
- The soup can be made ahead up to this point. When you are ready to serve the soup, return the mixture to a boil and plunge in the spinach. Cook the soup, covered, for 6 to 8 minutes, just until the spinach is cooked. Adjust your salt. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and the hard-boiled egg.