Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Tuscan Chickpea Soup February 11, 2011

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 8:49 am



Reny loves to make fun of the fact that, while I can barely identify a restaurant I want to eat at in Philly,

I can tell him which chef is leaving which restaurant, what wine dinners are being held, and who is closed due to snow – in Memphis.

I can’t help it.

Along with Facebook updates from our friends,

and the fact that both

Whining and Dining


I Love Memphis

are still sandwiched between my (other) favorite bookmarks,

I can’t help but know what is going on!

(This might also be the reason for my daily “I miss Memphis” pains – note to self, remove Memphis blogs, or at least move to bottom of bookmarks!)



For all the “I want to move back to PA” talking I did during the past year, I myself can hardly believe the deep longing I am having to move back to the “oh so dirty but beautiful” South.  But honestly, while I was raised in Erie, PA, I grew up in Memphis.

Moving to town just a week before my 21st Birthday, it was the city where I made, and lost, some of my best friends.  The place where I could show up, by myself, at Blues City on Sunday, The Bucc on Monday, Newby’s on Wednesday and be surrounded by scores of friends.  Memphis is where I fell in, and out, of love numerous times;  the place where I met, then fell for, my husband.  It is the place where my bosses became my good friends and leaving them, or them leaving us, was just as painful as moving away from, or losing, a relative.  It is the place where I made, by far, some of my stupidest mistakes and decisions, but also the place where I chose to bring a new life into this world.  I boogied my butt off in Memphis, barefoot in gross bars and then barefoot outside at Rock-N-Romp and The Shell with my groovin’ son (with many of the same folks who were once at the bars!).

And, while I always knew that I wouldn’t be in Memphis forever, moving away has left an empty hole in my heart.  It is a hole that I know, in time, will be filled with new experiences, friends, and places, but the past 6 years will always have their tender spot.



So, until some more relevant Philadelphia-related blogs come across my radar, I will continue checking in to see what is going on in M-town.

Jennifer Biggs of Whining and Dining has been posting “Soup Friday” during this fall/winter season.  A recent recipe for Tuscan Chickpea caught my eye as a perfect dish for my “vegetarian” son.

His aversion to meat, while baffling, is fine with me, as my waistline (and bank account!) could deal with going meatless more often!



2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups onion, diced

8 garlic cloves, minced

4 cups of water

1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 (15 1/2-oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 (14 1/2-oz) can of diced tomatoes

1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, to taste

freshly grated parmesan cheese




Heat the oil over medium heat

Add onion and garlic, sweat

(about 5 minutes)



Add rosemary, salt, pepper, water, chickpeas and tomatoes



Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, 20 minutes



Place 2 cups of soup in a blender and puree


** when pureeing something hot, remove center of blender cap to allow steam to escape.  Place a towel over the opening to prevent the soup from flying everywhere, and from getting burned!


Return puree to soup and repeat with 2 more cups of soup.


(Don’t puree the whole batch, though maybe not a bad idea to set some puree aside for baby food!  Just puree 4-5 cups)



Add balsamic vinegar (acidity “brightens” the flavors)

Bring back to a boil and remove from heat


Serve with a generous sprinkling of grated parm!



I paired the soup, though hearty enough on its own, with asparagus, caprese salad, and fresh bread.

I figured, if Ren rejected the soup, he’d still get a pretty balanced meal.


At first, he rejected the soup in favor of the cheese and tomatoes (duh)

I pointed out the beans, told him they were beans and kind of like uvas (grapes)

Well, that was it!  The kid devoured the soup and asked for seconds!

After picking out each chickpea, he then sopped up every last bit of soup with some bread …







I’m gonna go ahead and say this meal is

Ren approved!


2 Responses to “Tuscan Chickpea Soup”

  1. Alina Alfonso Says:

    What a wonderful, wonderful blog – Gretchen, you HAVE TO PUBLISH A BOOK!
    Love you, dear girl. God bless you and my grandchild (grandchildren!), and of course, my son!
    (I’m going to make the soup this weekend!), since it’s going to “cold” here in Miami (low 50’s at night and 71!!! during the day tomorrow and Sunday!).

  2. Wendy Says:

    I feel you Gretchen-I miss Memphis! We really do like Charlotte, but we are both surprised at how much we miss Memphis and its unique flavor. Love the blog and so jealous you can get Ren to eat sooooo much!

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