Holidays and Chickpea Minestrone

So as time should have it we are well into December. 2013 is almost gone; the winter and holiday season is upon us at a full, steady fast pace. I love Seattle during the holidays. There is something about living in a city during a time like this that is hard to explain. You begin to see the transformation and anticipation for the holidays. The added bonus is you feel the energy of all the people coming, going, and just enjoying life. Seattle, getting ready for the holiday season.

In the midst of all of this holiday anticipation I was searching for a meal to make. I was craving something…what I wasn’t sure. I was thinking of what to eat, and I started to think of my family and what they are doing with the holiday preparation starting. (To be honest the hardest thing about living in Seattle is the fact that a majority of my family and friends are 3,000 miles away in New Jersey.) For some reason I started to think of what my mom might make, and what my sister would like to eat. There was a simple solution: Pasta Fagioli. It is an all-time favorite dish of my sisters. She loves the rich bean broth and the bits of veggies and pasta that accompany it. My mom often made a version of this, although my mom would make it with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chick peas) and refer to it as a Chick Pea Minestrone.

I have a personal infatuation with garbanzo beans. I love the taste and texture of them and will indulge in them in any way, shape, or form. I knew it was time to make a pot of Pasta Fagioli, but just like my mom would; a minestrone. I had a bag of dried garbanzo beans in the cabinet so I took a cup of the garbanzos and soaked them in four cups of water before I left for work in the morning. (I know most people would soak them overnight. But with the baker’s hours I keep - I am awaketo get ready for work at 3A.M.) When I came home in the afternoon the beans had absorbed a majority of the water. I placed a large pot of water on the stove, rinsed off the beans and placed them in the pot over medium heat. I let them simmer away for about an hour and a half before adding veggies to the pot. About another hour later the minestrone was ready. Ahhh! It tasted like my mom made it. I only wish she and my sister were there to enjoy it and the holiday season here as well…maybe they can next year. I will have the soup ready for them.

Chickpea Minestrone

Chickpea Minestrone (serves 6)

1 cup of dried garbanzo beans / chickpeas *

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped

1 onion, trimmed and chopped small

3 cloves of garlic, chopped small

3 canned tomatoes, pureed

2 bay leaves

¼ tsp of dried oregano

1 cup of dried pasta, small in shape

Sea salt and black pepper

First, place your dried beans in at least 4 cups of water and let soak for at least eight hours. After soaking, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a large pot with six quarts of water and place over medium heat and let it all simmer for about an hour and a half.

Next; once the water is reduced by half, you should carefully add your veggies along with the spices. Let it all simmer until your veggies are tender. Once the veggies are tender you can add your pureed tomatoes. When doing so keep an eye on the liquid level in the pot. If you feel it has reduced too far you can add a cup or two of water to the pot.

Then, at this time place another pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling place the dried pasta in it, stirring frequently; and cooking it until the pasta is al dente.

Finally, taste you minestrone and season it with your sea salt and pepper as needed. When your pasta is cooked through, strain it from the water and place it into the soup. Stir it all together well and let it sit together at least a minute or two before serving. Serve while warm.