Soup for the soul

September 24, 2006 on 3:04 pm | By | In Eat to Train, Recipes, Whatcha Got | Comments Off on Soup for the soul

As mentioned in an earlier post, now that the weather has turned I’m craving hearty soups and stews. To me, there’s nothing better on a windy, cool day than to wrap yourself in a quilt and curl up on the couch with a steaming bowl of goodness.

Originally I was going to prepare a Moroccan-themed dinner for my darling on Friday — Tunisian vegetable & bean soup, or Hlelem; spicy carrot salad and Moroccan lemon chicken — but the ganglion cyst on my right wrist had other ideas. Actually, it was the lack of a cyst that caused the problem — I went to my doctor to have it aspirated and she advised keeping my wrist immobilized over the weekend. So much for cooking! Instead my darling prepared a simple Thai steamed mussel dish with rice.

Since I’m still thinking of running the Seattle half marathon, I did my first long run on Saturday (6 miles). My pace was a bit faster than it should have been, so I was pretty wiped out afterwards (my wrist brace fortunately provided no interference). But after a nice afternoon on the couch I was ready for some soup. The Hlelem recipe, from the CIA’s “Gourmet Meals in Minutes” cookbook, is rather easy to make, so I figured I could handle it. My darling took care of all the chopping, and I finished it off.

Rather than preparing the lemon chicken, I decided to throw the breasts into the soup (I simmered them in the broth until done, then shredded them). I also threw in the half bag of frozen spinach we had tucked away in our freezer. We then tossed together some grated carrots with plain yogurt, curry powder and golden raisins for the salad. Not what I had originally planned, but still very yummy.

Hlelem
(adapted from “Gourmet Meals in Minutes”)

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1/2 onion, minced
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon harissa or red curry paste (or more or less to taste)
1 quart chicken stock (preferably homemade)
3/4 pound chicken breast
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, liquid reserved
1 cup frozen baby lima beans (or 1 15-ounce can)
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and cut into 1/2″ pieces, leaves shredded
10 ounces frozen spinach (optional)
1/2 cup angel hair pasta, broken into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic, celery and onion and cook until softened. Add the tomato paste and harissa or curry paste and saute until fragrant and paste begins to brown. Add the chicken broth and garbanzo bean liquid (if using canned lima beans, add that liquid too). Bring to a simmer and add chicken breasts. Cook chicken until done; remove to a cutting board to cool. When cool to the touch, shred and add back to soup. Add pasta and Swiss chard stems and cook for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for parsley and salt & pepper. Cook until pasta is tender, approximately 7-10 minutes more. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

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