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On routine, with tears, taste buds, and chickpea-tomato soup

Alright, I admit it: I’m kind of boring.

I love routine. I’ve never been good at change—which is to say that I’m actually rather bad at it. My poor, long-suffering mother can attest to this: during college, I called her at the beginning of each and every quarter, sobbing and sniveling incoherently about my new schedule and new classes and the end of life as I knew it. I’m also the girl who took the same brown-bag lunch to school every single day for the first fourteen years of her life: Peter Pan creamy peanut butter on mushy Home Pride whole wheat bread (no jam, jelly, or other gelatinousness; no crunchy peanut butter; no natural peanut butter; no white bread; no seeded bread; and no change). My taste buds may well be the eighth wonder of the world: how they managed to survive such monotony is one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

Though I’ve lately gotten more friendly with change and spontaneity in general—ah, the wisdom that comes with (ahem) maturity!—even today, I regularly put my taste buds to the test of boredom. Nearly every morning, I sit down to the same breakfast in the same crimson bowl, and nearly every morning, it makes me ridiculously happy. Thus sated, I flounce down to the bus with roughly the same formulaic lunch: slices of bread A; slices of cheese B; a Tupperware of soup C or vegetable D; and a piece of fruit E, according to the season. Today it was honey oatmeal bread, cave-aged gruyère and Cabot cheddar, chickpea-tomato soup, and an heirloom navel orange. I may be boring, but they were eyeing my lunch covetously at the bus stop. Who knows what could happen if I gave up the routine now: a bus operator strike, riots, revolution, the end of life as we know it.

Chickpea-Tomato Soup with Fresh Rosemary
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart…: Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More from New York City’s Favorite Bakeshop and Café, by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

I first tasted this soup a few years ago, on a cold, windy December day in New York City. Each spoonful unites the fruity acidity of ripe tomatoes with the earthy sweetness of chickpeas, rounding out the whole with a subtle undertone of rosemary. This soup is a breeze to make, especially if you have an immersion blender, and keeps well for several days in the refrigerator.

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas
3 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 3-inch sprigs fresh rosemary, needles removed from stem and finely chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes, one 28-ounce and one 14.5-ounce
A pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock (I used Imagine brand)

Drain the canned chickpeas in a colander, and rinse them well.

Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, and then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, a few grinds of pepper, roughly half of the chickpeas, and the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat to purée. If using an immersion blender, purée the soup directly in the pot. Otherwise, wait a few minutes, until the soup cools; then purée it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Add the remaining chickpeas, and warm the soup over medium heat. Serve warm.

Yield: 6 servings.


Blogger Cathy said...

Yum - I'm printing this out now! One of my favorite pasta dishes (from Moosewood) is a combination of chickpeas, tomatoes and rosemary, so I just know I'll love this soup!

4:53 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger debbie said...

Sister, there ain't nothin' boring about the lunch you described! Yummmm. (Except the cheese part. I don't like cheese. But you do, so that's ok.)

6:05 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger Nic said...

Great food is never boring!

9:50 PM, April 06, 2005  
Blogger Jen said...

I'm cheating. Trader Joe's makes a tomato soup that I eat at least three times a week, and I think I can handle adding chickpeas.

I'll save the creative stuff for your other recipes. :)

6:53 AM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger amylou said...

I was just looking at a recipe someone gave me for a very similar soup last night. The only real difference is that the recipe I have also suggests adding a bit of balsamic vinegar at the end and garnishing with parmesan.

Also, I am back in peanut-butter sandwich mode after a long hiatus, but mostly for breakfast. This morning as I sat eating two pieces of toast with melty, smooth peanut butter I really couldn't imagine a more satisfying taste. If only I had a crimson plate...

7:22 AM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger Carol said...

Your lunch routine sounds pretty yummy to me! I too am loving cave-aged Gruyere right now. Last week I had the most delicious piece from my local fromager..mm...

8:44 AM, April 07, 2005  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Your soup is from one of my favorite cookbooks! Yum!

10:50 AM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Great, cai! Let me know what you think...

Debbie, I'm afraid that your anti-cheese stance might be cause for reconsidering our friendship. Simply appalling! But I also know that you're very pro-chocolate, so I'll try to forgive and forget.

Nic., you've got a good point there. And sometimes the simplest foods are the greatest, such as good bread, cheese...or soup.

And Jen, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who's into food repetition.

Amy, that soup sounds delicious. If you make it, will you tell me how it turns out? And as for your peanut butter routine, I hear you. I just came home from work and had a spoonful of the stuff (Whole Foods brand; creamy, of course). Mmm, mmm.

Carol, my cave-aged gruyere tasted especially good today, for some reason. I love the little crunchy crystals (salt? calcium?) hiding in it. Yum.

And Lauren, what else have you made from the cookbook? I've thoroughly perused it and have folded down the pages for good-looking recipes, but this is the first one I've made. Open for suggestions...

3:54 PM, April 07, 2005  
Blogger LeeLoreya said...

There's something reassuring about routine, that it's under control. Also, you enjoy that lunch you've prepared instead of running to the nearest sandwich store and gobble up something that looks rather unnatural.
I remember once a theater teacher made us do some warming up exercice where we had to close our eyes and reenact the way we prepare our morning drink and meal. After repeating it several times, you realize that these moves are really written inside your body and they tell a lot about who you are (even though that's sort of stereotypical)

1:32 AM, April 08, 2005  
Anonymous Nicky said...

Hi Molly,
there's nothing bad about food repetition - as long as one doesn't do it on a "supersize me-the film"-bases ;) Whenever I come across something really delicious, I have to force myself to not go overboard and for a change after some days. If I miss the latest possible turning point, the delight may turn into absolute dislike...

11:41 AM, April 08, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

LeeLoreya, that theater exercise sounds fascinating. There definitely is a certain amount of muscle memory involved in our routines, especially the ones that we sometimes bumble through, half-awake...

And Nicky, thanks for stopping by! I hear you on the too-much-of-a-good-thing thing. I think I did that with almond butter, sadly.

2:49 PM, April 09, 2005  
Blogger Carol said...

I made this the other night to go with roasted asparagus. So easy and delicious -- thank you!

5:05 PM, April 11, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Carol, I'm so glad to hear it. That's quite a lovely spring meal you had there...

3:39 PM, April 12, 2005  
Anonymous Emily said...


This soup is fabulous! It was so easy, and I've gladly eaten it for lunch every day this week. When routine tastes this good, why fight it?

I'm a new reader from Kansas, and I'm really enjoying your writing.

Thank you.

6:11 AM, April 20, 2005  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank YOU, Emily! I'm so glad to hear that you like the soup--and routine as well.

6:49 PM, April 20, 2005  
Blogger Amy said...

I was going to suggest another great soup from Once Upon a Tart that I had found on a blog long ago, since you asked. I went digging through my files, and lo and behold it was this very blog! The Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Warm Spices back in April of 2007 was amazing - so I will definitely try this one. And it sounds like you've cooked through a smidge more of this cookbook that you thought!

8:04 PM, February 11, 2009  
Blogger wyowoman said...

I think I got to this post from The Wednesday Chef, and it was just what we needed for our everyone-has-a-head-cold-this-winter-evening supper. Thank you for sharing. I made it with smittenkitchen's Crisp Rosemary Flatbread, it was a perfectly satisfying combo. Thanks again.

8:19 PM, February 18, 2009  
Anonymous janet said...

I really enjoyed this soup. The simple flavours merry well together and the chickpeas make this a very hearty soup. Yum!

I wrote about my experiences here:

10:48 AM, January 09, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just made this for lunch tomorrow but can't stop eating it NOW. I did sub thyme for rosemary, and added a shallot and some red chili flakes. Also left out the whole chickpeas at the end as I'm currently enjoying the smooth, fresh tomato + nutty chickpea experience.
Molly, i've read your blog for years now, never commented. Exploring more tonight in a time of need. Read your 17 yr old prose, along with several other posts. You inspire me SO much! Seeing you 5/6 years ago to where you have progressed now. THANK YOU. I'm around your age, in LOVE LOVE with food (and writing, and theory) but still figuring it out.
Anyway, I'm asking for your book for christmas


9:15 PM, December 06, 2011  
Blogger Lea said...

I love your blog, and I love this soup. I will be taking it for lunch every day this week, and I'm pretty excited about it. I also posted it on my blog, with cred to you (I'm a newbie. Don't expect much.)


Thanks for the inspiration :)

4:05 PM, February 04, 2012  
Blogger katrin said...

Dear Molly

I have fallen hard for this soup. I make it every week in Winter. Right now it's mid Summer and 30 degrees Celsius in my city and I just finished two generous helpings of it - it's just as good in the heat. Thanks so much for sharing!

8:02 AM, February 07, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had to comment tonight because I felt like I owed you a thank you. I began making this soup for my husband when I found it on your blog years ago on a cold rainy day in San Francisco. He quickly declared it his favorite soup ever and I have probably made it at least 50 times since, only now I am making it in snowy Chicago where a warm bowl of this soup can brighten any dreary day. I don't change a thing. The only thing this soup requires is a good drizzle of quality olive oil over the top and a really crusty baguette on the side. We love it, so thank you for this!

7:25 PM, January 30, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this recipe. I just finished making this soup for Sunday Dinner. It is absolutely delicious! Perfect for the snow-sleet-rain weather today.

4:16 PM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Anika said...

Molly, I come back to this soup year after year! Thanks!!

6:25 PM, February 10, 2014  
Blogger David Marshall said...

Over 10 years after you first posted this... Had dinner tonight with my wife and father in law. I baked a loaf of bread and made this soup. Nora baked walnut shortbreads and we devoured them with raspberries and ice cream Bill and I finished a bottle of my favorite wine. One of my most favorite, most memorable, love-filled meals ever. Thank you, thank you so much for having spent the time to post this recipe all those years ago. I'm so glad that reading Orangette has been a routine of mine!

9:14 PM, October 25, 2015  

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