Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quick & Healthy Dinner From The Pantry:
Cream (or not) Of Artichoke Soup Recipe With Garlic, Onions, & Garbanzo Beans


Nothing Hits The Spot Like A Bowl Of Cozy Homemade Soup

Some of my favorite recipes were created by chance and circumstance. Last summer's popular Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw and Easy Vegetarian Tacos was the result of having a kitchen full of baby cabbages, my Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars came about while I was baking a bribe for a friend who really wanted Just Peachy Blueberry Breakfast Bars but it wasn't peach season, and my Whole Wheat Scones With Currants & Oats were born out of sheer laziness. Inspiration and invention can even hit during a simple trip into the pantry.

This isn't the Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup I'd planned to make one day last January. And it's even further from the roasted red pepper and tomato soup I'd decided to make instead of the broccoli soup. But that's how it is around here sometimes.

I was poking around the pantry, grabbing the jar of roasted red peppers I'd bought specifically for some other recipe and wondering if one big can of organic diced tomatoes would be enough for the soup or did I need two, when I spied the artichoke hearts. At least four cans of them hanging out and gathering dust.

You see, what happens is that I'm the kind of person who lives in phases of crazes, and when I really get into a dish I decide - usually while I'm at the grocery store, starving and pushing a big old empty shopping cart - that I'm going to make whatever dish I'm currently enamored with at least six more times so I'd better stock up on the ingredients. And then maybe I'd better grab a little bit more of them since this thing is so good I'll never get tired of eating it.

Then I get tired of eating it. Or I get lazy and stop making it. Or I forget about it. Or something beyond my control happens, which was the case with all those cans of artichoke hearts that were destined to become several batches of the Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip I was pretty much living on for a while (and intending to live on even longer) last summer. Or maybe it was spring. I can't remember. All I know is that one minute I had more of my beloved Swiss chard in the kitchen garden than I could consume, and the next minute all sorts of creatures and acts of nature and other awful things had conspired to pretty much decimate my entire crop.

And it gets worse. The pittance that was left, bravely struggling through winter in the greenhouse in the hopes of surviving until spring when it could once again turn into monster plants that would supply me with enough greenery to make at least three batches of Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip was eaten by rats. Actually probably just one big rat, though there's also a slim chance it might have been a rabbit or a very fat cat. But I don't really want to talk about it because it's entirely too depressing.

All I know is that back in January there were all these cans of artichoke hearts in the pantry threatening to jump into my as-yet-uninvented roasted red pepper and tomato soup, and then without warning they turned themselves into the star of the show. Suddenly I wanted to make artichoke soup even though I'd never heard of such a thing.

The calendar says spring has sprung, and recipes calling for the first fresh asparagus, potatoes, rhubarb, leeks, and other delights of the season are popping up on food blogs everywhere. This week's newsletter from CUESA says there are even strawberries to be had at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. (Why oh why do I torture myself with a subscription to that newsletter?) But after a mostly frozen February, an extremely wet March, and temperatures still dipping into the teens, there isn't much happening in my Missouri kitchen garden.

It'll be 'pantry eating season' around here for at least a few more weeks, but as long as I have some recipes like this one up my sleeve, that's just fine by me.



Cream (or not) Of Artichoke Soup With Garlic, Onions, & Garbanzo Beans
Makes about 9 cups - Serves 4 to 6

I've never been a big fan of soups that are full of heavy cream. All those hidden calories that could have been consumed as cake or cookies instead! For years I happily thickened my soups with rice and, more recently, garbanzo beans. But since I started buying milk last year that goes from cow to gallon jar to my refrigerator, I've found myself with an overabundance of this amazing heavy cream.

Since there's only so much freshly whipped cream a girl can should eat, after tasting this soup I did the unthinkable; I stirred a cup of cream into the pot. And then I had another taste. And then I seriously thought about stirring in a second cup.

Without the cream, this soup is very good. With the cream, it's divine. And, I reassured myself while gobbling up that first batch, one little cup of cream in a entire pot of soup really isn't that much at all. Besides, think of all that calcium. So waistlines and virtues be dammed - there's no denying that I've turned into a cream soup fan. And after trying this one, you just might cross over, too. Look at it this way: you can always have a smaller piece of cake for dessert.

This easy recipe comes together quickly and contains some of the World's Healthiest Foods. It tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge, so try to make it up ahead of time if you can. As always, I urge you to seek out locally produced and organically grown ingredients whenever possible.

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 onions (about 1-1/2 pounds), coarsely chopped
4 to 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed
2 14-ounce cans artichokes (packed in water), drained, rinsed & coarsely chopped
1 cup organic heavy cream (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat, then add the onions. Stir to coat with oil, cover, and cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring frequently, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Make a space in the center of the pot and add the garlic, stirring so it all touches the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring, two minutes.

Add the artichokes, garbanzo beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer with the lid barely cracked for about 30 minutes.

Purée with an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a countertop blender and very carefully purée, then return to the pot. I can't say enough good things about, or imagine life without, my KitchenAid Hand Blender; it's quite possibly the best $50 I've ever spent in the kitchen.

Stir in the cream if desired, let cook a few more minutes, then salt and pepper to taste.

Serve plain or dressed up with whatever you like: a dollop of sour cream; chopped chives or parsley or scallions; some cheddar, jack, or Irish Shannon (my new favorite cheese); a sprinkling of crispy fried shallots; or a few big fat homemade croutons (perhaps from a Four Hour Parisian Baguette).

How about some bread to go with your soup?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (my most popular recipe)
Quick Rosemary Focaccia
Whole Wheat Beer Bread
Onion Rye Beer Bread
Savory Feta Cheese & Scallion Scones
Parisian Four Hour Daily Baguettes
No-Knead Crusty Freeform Bread
Oatmeal Toasting Bread (makes great rolls, too)
Fresh Tomato & Basil Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Italian Black Olive Cheeks
Carrot Herb Rolls (And A Bargain Bread Book For Beginners)
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza

You might also enjoy my other Less Fuss, More Flavor soup recipes:
Broccoli Onion Garbanzo Bean Soup
Susan's Super Spinach Soup
Garlic Lover's White Bean Soup
Hearty Lentil Soup With Smoked Sausage
Use It Or Lose It Lentil & Escarole Soup
Spur Of The Moment Summer Squash Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup
Simple Summer Harvest Soup (The Autumn Version)

Still Hungry?
You'll find links to all my sweet & savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the sidebar of the Farmgirl Fare homepage under PREVIOUS POSTS: FOOD STUFF WITH RECIPES. Enjoy!

This is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Ramona at The Houndstooth Gourmet. Thanks to my foodie friend Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen, food bloggers around the world are now in their third year of sharing information and favorite recipes each week using herbs, plants, veggies, and flowers. Want to join in? Check out the Rules For Weekend Herb Blogging.

© Copyright 2008 FarmgirlFare.com, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres - and having homemade soup on hand in the fridge makes it harder to rationalize eating chocolate cake for lunch (which is probably a good thing).

14 comments:

  1. Great photos. I really think I can almost taste the soup! It sounds fantastic; I'm a big artichoke fan!

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  2. Delicious (I can tell). Thank you for adding all those links to recipes. I love that you take so much time with each entry -- adding links and gorgeous photos. It is always a joy to scroll through your site... not good for the waistline, I fear. :)

    Blessings!

    Lacy

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  3. Thank you for the recipe. The soup looks delicious.

    And thanks for the links to so many other recipes. I can't wait to try many of them.

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  4. Oh help me, Rhoda I am SO making this soup because I have everything except for the Evil Cream in my kitchen right now.

    Let's just not tell Bubba that there was cream in the original recipe and he'll love it a lot, too.

    Thanks man!

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  5. It's doing its 30 minute simmer as I type. Thank you so much for posting the recipe.

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  6. I must admit I saw this recipe and went to the store the next day to make the soup! I will let you know my out come. I plan to make it today. My kids love soup so I just won't tell them what's in it. I also plan to have some slices of beer bread nearby...Thanks for all the great recipes!
    -Jeanette

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  7. Ok, so I totally made this that same night and it was RAD.

    No cream though.

    Tonight I'm eating the leftovers and I'm thinking of stirring in some FF greek yogurt (plain, obviously). Do you think that'll be gross?

    Either way - the soup itself was RULLLY good and I might have to try the super spinach soup soon.

    :)

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  8. That soup works well with broccoli too. Yum! Maybe cauliflower???

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  9. I have to have this soup. Artichokes? YUM. Garbarnzo beans? Excellent. Onions, garlic, etc.? Yes, I MUST HAVE THIS SOUP!! Thanks for what sounds like a fabulous, foolproof, easy recipe!

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  10. Can I use frozen artichokes? how much would I need to substitute in the recipe?

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  11. Hi Lisa,
    I've never bought or cooked with frozen artichokes, but I think they would probably work fine. What you want to use are just the hearts. Each drained can of artichoke hearts weighs 8.5 ounces, so you'll want about 17 ounces of frozen artichokes. If you do try the recipe using them, I'd love to know how it turns out.

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  12. I look forward to trying it, and I will definitely let you know how it turns out.
    Thanks!!!!

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  13. I just made this and it is delish! I had two jars of artichokes from Sam's Club open in the fridge I needed to use up -- one marinated and one not. I drained and rinsed the marinated artichokes and used them. Haven't added milk or cream yet, but it is really good so far! Thanks for the inspiration.

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January 2013 update: I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!

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