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A friend turned me on to this easy, filling soup featuring chickpeas and leeks. It’s surprisingly tasty and creamy without complicated ingredients or much fat. Use canned chickpeas and a hand blender for a one pot meal.

This week I ate it with chuchuka, a simple North African spread of roasted red peppers and tomatoes that can be served with bread or pretty much any grain. My best friend’s grandmother made it for decades, and now it’s one of my favorite accompaniments to legume-heavy main dishes. It’s also great for crostini – just spoon some on toasted baguette slices, top with cheese (or not), and broil for a few minutes. If you roast and freeze red peppers in season, you can use them all winter to brighten up drab meals.

Chickpea Leek Soup, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef:

12 oz chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked in water until tender (about 1 hour) or 3 14 oz cans*
1 medium potato
3-4 leeks
1/2 yellow or white onion
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic
4 cups vegetable stock or water
Leaves from several sprigs of thyme and rosemary
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Thinly slice garlic, onion and white parts of leeks. Peel and thinly slice the potato.

Melt butter in soup pot. Add the leeks, onion and some salt and cook until soft. Add the garlic, potato and herbs and cook for 10 more minutes. Add rinsed and drained chickpeas along with 3 cups of stock/water and simmer for 20 minutes, until chickpeas and potatoes are tender.

Puree half of the soup and leave the other half chunky. Add enough of the remaining stock/water to achieve the consistency you like. Adjust seasoning and top with a sprinkle of parmesan.

Serves 6.

*A helpful rule of thumb when converting dried beans to cooked and canned:
1lb. dried beans = 2 cups dried beans = 6 cups cooked beans = 4 14 oz cans

Chuchuka, from Meme:

4 red peppers, seeded, roasted, and peeled
6 tomatoes, peeled or 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper and sugar
Other seasonings (optional): red chili flakes, curry powder, harissa, smoked paprika…

Cooking down red pepper and tomato mixture

Chop roasted peppers into thick strips and tomatoes into rough chunks. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a wide skillet. Add peppers and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until mixture thickens quite a bit, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more oil as needed. Add salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar, and any other seasoning you like. I tend to stick to salt and sugar – there’s plenty of flavor in there already!

Serves 4 generously.

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