Chickpea Soup for the Soul

This is a food blog, not a life blog.  I try very hard to keep this a positive space and to maintain some separation between my life and what I post here.  Although I will use a personal story or anecdote to lead into a recipe sometimes, this is not a space where I air my private feelings.  And while I don’t plan to start now, I will say that I’m aware of the idea that food bloggers’ lives are perfect and we all live in a storybook land of sun-filled kitchens and dreamy apple pie aromas.  Not so.  I’m a real person with feelings, and I hit rough patches like everyone else.  I was recently on the receiving end of some very hurtful remarks and while I’m trying to bounce back, it’s not easy.

I’ve never been a “comfort food” person.  In fact, if you were to ask me what my personal “comfort food” is… well, I don’t actually know.  I’m not one to drown my sorrows in a bowl of mac ‘n cheese or a pint of ice cream.  If I’m upset you’re far more likely to find me at the mall (holla back, DSW!).  But I do know that in times of trouble, it’s especially important to take care of yourself.  My Chickpea Soup for the Soul is a great way to start the healing process.  It’s full of nutrients and fiber, with a great protein hit from the chickpeas.  Because when we’re at our lowest points, that’s when we’re most in need of good nutrition.  After all, we need to be strong so we can stand up for ourselves.

Food is just food.  It’s not a hug or a friend.  Fortunately for me, I have hugs and friends aplenty, and I’ll be fine in the end.  In the meantime, I’m being kind to myself by giving myself chickpeas and leafy greens.  Not because they’re comforting, but because they’re giving me fuel while I try to shake it off, smile, and get back to the business of being my best self.

Chickpea Soup for the Soul

4 stalks celery
3 carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Better Than Boullion vegetable base*
1 cup vegetable stock
4 cups water
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 cups chopped kale
salt and pepper to taste

  • Prep celery and carrots: thinly slice celery, peel and dice carrots.
  • Heat olive oil in large stockpot until shimmering.  Add celery and carrots and shallots (if using), stir to coat, and saute briefly until veggies are beginning to soften.  Sprinkle with thyme and stir well.
  • Add broth, water and vegetable base.  Simmer all together for 15 minutes.
  • Add chickpeas and kale.  Stir to wilt kale and simmer soup together for 15 more minutes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary (you probably won’t need salt because the vegetable base is salty, but you may want some pepper).

*If you don’t have Better Than Boullion vegetable base, you can substitute 5 cups of vegetable broth instead of 1 cup of vegetable broth, 4 cups of water and the vegetable base.  I just did it this way because I only had 1 cup of vegetable broth in the house!  But you can feel free to sub some or all of the water.

Source: Covered In Flour

Kale Salad with Sea Vegetable

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  Between the holidays and some work travel, I’ve been away far more than I’ve been home.  Traveling so much can be exciting, and I’m loving the opportunity to see new faces and new places and to work in a different environment.  (I do miss my friends at work, though!)  But one thing that I’ve realized is that I’m very wedded to my routine.  I like my familiar running trails and my fridge full of greenery.  Where I am now… well, it’s a city with lots of good qualities, but if I were to say the words “kale salad” they may look at me as if I’d grown another head.

Which is a shame.  Because this salad is not only healthy, it’s darn tasty as well.  I could eat kale salad every day of the week (and twice on Sundays!) but I rarely deviate from the classic combination of kale, avocado, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.  Sometimes I get a little crazy and sprinkle lime on instead.  Oooh, someone stop me!  So this time I wanted to try something different, something that still had that green, healthy flavor I love, something that felt like I was giving myself a little love before heading off on another grueling trip, but something a bit more creative as well.  Thus kale salad with sea vegetable was born.  The memory of this salad (which hubby is currently enjoying at home as I navigate hotel salad bars) is getting me through the next two weeks until I can have it again.  Now, if only I could find a nice running trail…

Kale Salad with Sea Vegetable

1 cup dried sea vegetable (dulse, armae, wakame or nori)
1 bunch curly kale
1 bunch Tuscan kale*
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt**
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
drizzle sesame or white truffle oil***
sprinkle white sesame seeds or Seaweed Gomasio

  • Place sea vegetable in a small bowl and cover with water.  Set aside to reconstitute.  (I used dulse but arame, wakame or nori would be good as well.  All are generally available in the Asian or natural foods sections of lage supermarkets, and in health food stores.)
  • Wash and dry kale leaves and tear them into large-ish bite sized pieces.  Add to mixing bowl; sprinkle on salt and drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • With your fingers, massage kale until it has “wilted” down into a softer consistency.  Don’t be afraid to test bite pieces to find a texture that’s to your liking!
  • Drain off sea vegetable, but don’t be too enthusiastic about squeezing out all the water.  It’s okay if the sea vegetable is damp.  It lives in the water, after all!  Plus, there’s nutrients and minerals in that water – good stuff.  Add sea vegetable to kale mixture.  Drizzle over white truffle oil or sesame oil and toss well to combine.
  • Garnish with Gomasio or white sesame seeds just prior to serving.  Enjoy in good health!

*If you can’t find Tuscan kale in your supermarket, just substitute another bunch of regular curly kale.  Or, if you prefer, use two bunches of Tuscan kale!  The important thing is to keep the proportions right by using two bunches of kale – the variety of kale doesn’t matter as much.  Or cut the recipe in half.  Whatever blows your hair back!

**Start with 1 teaspoon and add more salt as needed if your kale is tough and doesn’t want to “wilt” down.  Be careful with adding salt though – this recipe can get very salty, very fast.  Err on the side of spending a couple of extra minutes massaging the kale before you add more salt.  Remember, once you add that salt, you’ve passed The Point Of No Return.  (Doesn’t that sound scary?  You have been warned.)

***I fully intended to use sesame oil in this recipe, to tie in with the sprinkle of Gomasio I was planning to finish the dish off with.  Being somewhat impatient, I didn’t read the bottle of oil before I grabbed it, and ended up drizzling on my precious white truffle oil.  As white truffle oil has the tendency to do, it made this dish FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC, so I put it in the recipe instead of lying to y’all and pretending I used sesame oil.  But sesame oil would be great in this as well.  Just remember, whether you use sesame oil or white truffle oil, go easy because it’s intense stuff.

Source: Covered In Flour