The title of Sheryl Crow's new cookbook: "If It Makes You Healthy". The title Sheryl's sister thought she should have used: "If It Makes You Healthy, Then Why The Hell Are You So Fat?". Ha ha, OK while the last one might be a tad offensive, it's still funny. That is, of course, only if you listen to her music and know what the heck I'm talking about.
I'm not the biggest fan of hummus, although I find it pleasant enough it's not something I go for or think of making first if you know what I mean. So I went went into this recipe hopeful, but a bit skeptical that it could be as good as our friend Craig (You might remember "Vegan Craig" from this post) said it was. I really like cilantro though, so the pesto element coupled with the garlicky pita chips reeled me in. By the way, if you don't like cilantro, regular pesto made with basil would be just fine to substitute.
Seriously, this is one of the best soups I have ever had. The flavor was excellent and satisfying. I have to say, I was quite surprised. It is essentially warm, thinned hummus garnished with pita chips and pesto, but somehow it's much more than that. It's different and exciting in some way. On a stormy spring day, which we are experiencing in spades right now, it's warm and comforting and so hits the spot. Keep a few cans of chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) in the pantry and you can make this just about anytime. If you prefer, garnish the soup with smoked paprika and thick, plain yogurt instead of the pesto. You can bang the soup part out in like 15 minutes flat. You just combine all the ingredients together and puree, cold, and then heat the pureed soup up in a saucepan until warm. I used my vita mix and got a really smooth puree, but a normal blender works just fine. The pesto can be made earlier in the day and kept in the refrigerator and is easy too, providing you have 5 minutes and a food processor.
Just a little FYI: I skipped on the coriander in the soup because I don't care for it. The cilantro pesto is also wonderful served with pasta, grilled meats, and thick, grilled fish steaks. Also, it's great on grilled quesadillas. Please, please, please, I beg of you, use fresh lemon juice for recipes when it calls for it. Lemon does NOT come out of those little yellow squeeze bottles. I don't know what comes out of those things, but it is certainly not lemon juice. I instructed 4-6 cups of vegetable stock because I prefer this soup slightly thicker, so four cups is fine for me but the original recipe calls for six.
Warm Hummus Soup with Cilantro Pesto and Garlicky Pita Chips
adapted from, If It Makes You Healthy, by Sheryl Crow and Chef Chuck White
4-6 cups organic vegetable stock (or 1 carton veg stock, plus 2 cups water, works too)
Three 14-15-ounce cans organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons Tahiti paste
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12-24 Garlicky Pita Chips (recipe follows)
6-8 tablespoons Cilantro Pesto (recipe follows)
In a blender, blend half of the stock, half the chickpeas, half of the lemon juice, half of the Tahiti paste, half of the garlic, and half of the cumin, coriander, and turmeric until smooth, 2-3 minutes. If the soup seems too thick, add water or m ore vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the first batch of the soup to a large saucepan or pot. Repeat with the remaining half of those ingredients to blend a second batch.
When all the soup is blended and in the pot, bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Stir the soup occasionally during heating.
Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and top each serving with 2 or 3 pita chips. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the pesto on the soup.
2 bunches cilantro, thick stems removed (2-3 loosely packed cups)
1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
1/2 small jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the cilantro, almonds, jalapeno (if using), lemon juice, garlic, and salt until almost smooth. With the processor running, slowly drizzle half of the olive oil into the pesto through the feed tube. When half of the oil is incorporated, scrape down the sides of the food processor. Again, with the motor running, add the remaining oil, or enough to form a smooth, thick pesto.
Using a rubber spatula, scoop the pesto into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. the pesto is best eaten close to making.
Garlicky Pita Chips:
3 whole-wheat pita rounds, cut into 6 segments (like a pizza)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. lightly oil 2 large baking sheets. Separate the top of each pita from the bottom, so that each is divided into 2 halves. Transfer the halves to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the olive oil, garlic powder salt, and pepper. Toss well but gently so that each pita triangle is well coated.
Lay the pita triangles on the baking sheets in a single layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Let the pita chips cool on the baking sheets to room temperature. use immediately or store in a sealed plastic bag or large lidded container for up to 1 week.