Chickpea Stew with Chorizo and Meatballs
Sometimes you have to concede to your audience. Sometimes you have to give the people what they want. R has eaten patiently through countless veggie soups, veggies stuffed, veggies in salads and veggies all on their own. For this, I never apologize. It's healthier, for one. And for two, I'm doing the cooking, so I normally choose the dish.
But this time. This time, Anya von Bremzen convinced me to add a little meat. Although I'm fairly certain that Anya could convince me of most anything. She's earned that kind of trust. She's like the decisive best friend who's not afraid to make up your mind for you. And with her, if it looks too good to be true, it's probably great. I wish I could intrust to her the more important decisions of my life, but when it comes right down to it, there aren't a lot of decisions I consider more important than what I'm going to eat. I have a feeling that Anya is right there with me.
If you still haven't looked through her almost perfect The New Spanish Table, please don't tell me. Just get to a library, or book store, or amazon and rectify the situation. I'm not protective over my best friends, after all, and I'm more than glad to share. If you need more convincing first, give this soup a go. Although it's delicious from the very beginning, it (like all soups, friendships and my dog) only gets better with age.
Chickpea Stew with Chorizo and Meatballs
For the Chickpeas
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 bay leaf
6 ounces sweet Spanish-style chorizo sausage
Once the chickpeas are soaked, place them in a large pot and add cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over high eat, add the bay leaf and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. You may need to replenish the water periodically in order to maintain the level.
After 1 hour, boil the chorizo in a separate pot for 2 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the chorizo to the chickpeas and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, until the chickpeas are tender, but still firm.
For the Meatballs
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
10 ounces ground pork
1/4 cup grated onion
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil for the pan
While the chickpeas cook, soak the bread in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain the bread, and squeeze out the excess water. Finely crumble the bread into a dish, to which you will add the pork, onion, egg, salt and pepper. Knead the ingredients together. If the mixture is too moist to form balls, simply refrigerate for 30 minutes (don't worry, you'll have time).
Preheat the oven to 425 and, with oiled hands, roll the mixture into small balls the size of cherry tomatoes. Place the balls on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Shake the balls around a bit part way through baking, or use a spatula to unstick them from the sheet. Set aside.
For Finishing the Stew
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
4 medium garlic cloves, passed through a press, and divided
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt to taste
Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion, carrot and half of the garlic on medium-low. The veggies should be tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cover the skillet and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, then stir the entire tomato mixture into the chickpeas. Continue to cook the stew for 15 more minutes.
Using your tongs again, transfer the chorizo from the stew to a cutting board and carefully slice it up. Return the chorizo to the pot and stir in the meatballs. Cook for 5 more minutes.
With a mortar and pestle, crush the remaining garlic, the parsley and a pinch of salt into a paste. Stir the paste into the soup and let the whole thing cook for 5 minutes more, to allow the flavors to meld. Serve and enjoy.
* To soak chickpeas, simply fill a bowl with water to a depth of 2" above the beans and set out overnight. Easy peasy.
* Oops. I chopped my onion for the meatballs instead of grating it, but everything was fine.
* If all you have are large eggs, simply beat your egg, but just don't add all of it to the meatballs. No reason to run out and buy a different size.
* This time of year, you can get away with using canned tomatoes instead of fresh.