A Flummoxed Spiced Chickpea Stew

Today I have soup. Or do I have stew? A Spiced Chickpea Stew with Feta Toasts

STEW : (formal) To undergo cooking by boiling slowly or simmering, especially a mixture of meat or fish and vegetables with stock.

(slang) To be in a state of anxiety or agitation

SOUP: (formal) A liquid food prepared from meat, fish, or vegetable stock combined with various other ingredients and often containing solid pieces.

(slang) A chaotic or unfortunate situation.

I don’t know whether to categorize this as a soup or a stew. Which has got me in a “state of anxiety or agitationâ leading to a chaotic or unfortunate situation.”

The Martha Stewart recipe that inspired me was solidly in the soup category. I say that because she called it soup. Flat out, no hemming and hawing. Soup period. Soup!

My version uses the same great flavors, chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander and red pepper. But I have let it cook a lot longer and I have left it a lot chunkier, so I tend to want to call it a stew. But these definitions above make no distinctions concerning texture. Conundrum.

chickpeasI could see my version being served over basmati rice, certainly making it a stew. But Martha is very sure of herself isn’t she? How can she state so definitively that her version is a soup? It’s not that different than mine. I guess that’s the difference between Martha and me, well that and a few billion dollars.

The reasons I am flummoxed are complicated and tied to some of the emotional attachments I make to food. I don’t need to go into them all here because you’re here for the soup, err I mean stew.

But I’ll summarize this way. You see I have had a bad cold. I have suffered through quite a few bowls of less than palatable bad canned soup this week. Yesterday it rained all day. Today it is bright and crisp and shockingly blue. I also woke up feeling a whole lot better. Do you see the connection? No?? Well, then I’ll continue.

I had just the tiniest knot of congestion left in my chest. I felt that if I acted all hearty and hale I could muscle that last bit of nasty phlegm right out of there.

Stew is hearty. See where I am going? But does stew need meat to be hearty? I don’t think so. Chickpeas are plenty hearty, and I am not quite ready for meat yet.

The best way to push out the nasty bugs in your system (once you are past bed ridden) in my opinion is exercise.

So in a perfect conflux of circumstances I took advantage of my increased energy, the stunning blue weather and my hearty and hale attitude. I took a big long walk with the dog in the hills above my house this morning.

But I pre-planned you see because I had this chickpea stew gently simmering on the stove while I was gone. When I got back all it needed were a few last minute details and a stew for lunch was born.

So you see that is why I am pretty sure that this is a stew. A Spiced Chickpea Stew with Feta Toasts. What does Martha know?

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 t crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 t coriander seeds
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • 1/8 t caraway seeds
  • 2 can (15 oz each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c diced canned tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 c jarred roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 6 slice rustic bread or baguette
  • 2 ripe red tomatoes, chopped into 1/4 pieces
  • 1/2 T dried oregano
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

feta toastsUsing a mortar and pestle, crush garlic, chiles, coriander, salt, and caraway to form a rough paste full of cracked seeds.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic mixture, and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in half of the chickpeas, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and stock. Cover the pot and simmer over very low heat, stirring often, for 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile lightly toast the bread slices in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Remove the toast from the oven and turn the broiler on to get hot.

In a small bowl mix together the chopped tomatoes, oregano and feta. Add a drizzle of very good olive oil. Heap about 1 1/2 tablespoons on top of each toast and place them on a baking sheet. Put the toasts under the broiler for a few moments until they begin to bubble and get brown. Remove the toasts from broiler. Set aside.

Using an immersion blender process the cooled tomato and chickpea mixture to a slightly chunky puree. Add the rest of the chick peas. Return the pan to the stove and reheat. Divide the stew among bowls, and serve with the tomato and feta toasts on the side.


Greg Henry