Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chickpea and Leek Soup

I have been a longtime fan of Christopher Kimball.   I always liked when he was a part of "Turkey Confidential" with Lynn Rosetto Kasper.    For some reason,  I don't like him so much on TV,  when he hosts America's Test Kitchen on PBS.  I don't want to sound superficial, it's just that he is rather nerdy looking with his Harry Potter-esque glasses.   The effect is that he comes off as the annoying guy you knew from college that sits in the front row of every class, brown nosing the professor, like   he knows more than you do.  Heck, he probably does know more than I do, but I don't want to feel that way. I much prefer Kimball's writing - as the editor of Cook's Illustrated, I've always enjoyed his essays at the beginning of the magazine entitled Letter from Vermont, which are more about Vermonter's life philosophy and less about knowing everything.   I realize I am applying a double standard - maybe those celebrity chefs that are also "eye candy" can get away with talking like they know more than I do. 

Over the holiday break, I got lots of cookbooks out of the library and a big stack were Chris Kimball books.  I am liking the tone of his cookbooks - much more user friendly and personal than the magazine or the TV show.   In the one I am reading now, Kitchen Detective,  he writes about what recipes inspire him, and then he goes out to make them even better.   That's how I like to work in the kitchen as well.    Plus, there's little folksy witticisms laced's a great cookbook.  I might have to buy it.   He said he was inspired by Jamie Oliver's chickpea soup recipe from the Naked Chef, another cookbook I need to get out of the library soon.   Talk about eye candy!  You be the judge....somehow, even though Jamie's always telling me how to cook and eat as well, I seem to take it better. 

Looks notwithstanding, I tried Kimball's chickpea soup and I liked that he used dried chickpeas instead of canned (or "tinned", as Jamie Oliver called them in his recipe), and he garnished his with the stuff you put on top of osso bucco, a dish made of veal shank I once made that no one but me would eat here at our house.   The official name of that stuff is gremolata and it is wonderful with this soup.  Kimball insists that the soup is better with homemade chicken stock, which is how I made mine because I had some in the freezer, but the "tinned" stuff would do just fine.    Here's my take on it:

Chickpea and Leek Soup
printer friendly recipe
Makes enough for about 6 people

2 c. dried chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and soaked overnight
1 t. kosher salt
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
2 leeks - white and light green parts, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
3 cans chicken broth - like Cook's Illustrated, I like Swanson's Natural Goodness (low sodium)
4 medium potatoes, peeled diced in 1/2 inch pieces

For the gremolata
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
zest of 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic, minced

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the chickpeas by draining them and cooking them in a quart of cold water with the salt until they are tender - about 30 minutes.  Drain.   Melt the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven and add the leek and saute until soft.   Add chickpeas, chicken broth and potato pieces.  Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

To make the gremolata, chop parsley and add lemon zest and garlic, and chop together until fine.   Garnish soup with gremolata and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.    This soup was wonderful on a cold winter'd day like today.   I can't call it a "pantry soup" like Chris Kimball did - because I had to run out and buy some leeks.  I had some leftover flat leaf parsley from another recipe, but that isn't something I'd have on hand.   I did have some Meyer lemons, which I keep in the fridge, just as Cook's Illustrated told me to.  They stay fresh a long time in the fridge.   Thanks for the tip Chris, maybe YOU DO know more than I do!


Tracy's Living Cookbook said...

I like the new look of your blog. I like the idea of chickpea and leek soup, but I really, really, really love the photo of Jamie Oliver..... yum :) (OK, Christopher Kimball is also a hero of mine....)

Tricia said...

Whenever I watch video snippets that come in the Cooks Illustrated emails, I get annoyed by Chris Kimball as well. He's kind of smirky.