Spring cleaning is more than rummaging through closets and raking last year’s layer from the yard. Apply this notion to the mind, to the body. Without realization, in our kitchen, we reach into the cupboard and find a can of beans, a near-empty bag of barley, some rice and discover that this little hodgepodge of bits is exactly what we want to eat. Add broth, some carrot and miscellaneous vegetables from the fridge. Suddenly soup. And a clean and nourishing one at that. Today, we have a lonely can of chickpeas in the rear of the cabinet. I know I have an onion somewhere, and carrots toward the end of their joy to use up, and well, I did buy a perfect fist-sized fennel bulb. This is all so completely springtime. What’s lost is found, and with its discovery, we find it is just what we need.
RESTORATIVE CHICKPEA, LEEK AND FENNEL SOUP
1 pound dried chickpeas (soaked overnight and rinsed); Pinch of dried chili; Extra-virgin olive oil; 2 shallots, minced; 2 leeks, finely chopped and rinsed well in a colander; 2 small fennel bulbs, finely chopped; Salt and pepper; Cream, optional; Dijon or red wine vinegar, optional
Cover the chickpeas well with cold water in a tall saucepan and bring them to a boil. Simmer the chickpeas until they are cooked, 20-30 minutes. Set them aside in their broth.
In the meantime, in a heavy-based pan or pot heat a little olive oil and sweat the shallot, leek and fennel until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chickpeas and add enough chickpea stock to cover them and the vegetables and simmer for a few minutes.
Remove 1 cup of the soup and blend either in a blender or food processor and add it back into the soup. If you like you can add a bit of cream, or a bit more stock if you like it thin, to give the soup a new twist or leave as is. As well, add a touch of dijon mustard or a splash of red wine vinegar to punctuate flavor if you like. Taste for salt and pepper and drizzle a bit of olive oil on the top.