My first boss used to joke that I’d probably be happy on a diet of mostly baby food. He said this because of my obvious love of mushy-textured foods, which I snacked on constantly at work: refried black bean dip, nut pate, and hummus. Especially hummus.
My love of mush hasn’t budged as the years go by. If anything, it’s gotten deeper. I love not just mushy dips, but also mushy porridge, soft/mushy grain dishes, smashed beans, and mushy soups and stews. This is especially true when it comes to puréed soups: the thicker the better, which means the texture sometimes walks a pretty fine line between soup and mush.
This creamy roasted garlic and chickpea soup isn’t offensively thick or mushy, and the addition of tender greens gives it some texture contrast. But it does have that thick, puréed texture that I love so much, and since the base is roasted garlic and chickpeas with a touch of lemon, it’s not so different from hummus soup. I’ve just given it a slightly fancier name ?
The soup begins with two whole heads of roasted garlic. It sounds like a ton, but the reason I’ve called for it is because the first time I made the soup, I only used one head of garlic. I liked the flavor, but I thought it could easily do with double the roasted garlic. Roasted garlic has none of the kick of the raw stuff, and in fact it gives this soup a mellow sweetness. If you’re very sensitive to garlic, of course, feel free to reduce the amount, but if your garlic heads are medium or small, I suspect you’ll find that two of them is just right.
Otherwise, the soup is super simple. Roasting the garlic is actually the most time-consuming step. Once that’s taken care of, you just sauté some chickpeas and onion, add broth and salt, and blend it all up. Here’s how it comes together.
- 2 heads garlic, top sliced off crosswise to expose the cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
- 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or 4 cups broth + 1 cup water)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt, and more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, as desired
- 4-5 cups tightly packed chopped spinach, chard, kale, broccoli rabe, or another leafy green
Preheat your oven to 400F. Lightly drizzle the garlic heads with olive oil. Wrap each head in foil and roast for 45 minutes, or until the cloves are becoming caramelized and the garlic is very fragrant.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, or until the onion is tender and clear. Add the chickpeas, broth (or broth + water), salt, and pepper.
Transfer the chickpeas and broth to a powerful blender. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from both heads into the blender, too. Blend on high till the mixture is very smooth, taking precaution with spattering (the soup will be very hot). You can do this in batches if your blender is on the small side. You can also use an immersion blender.
Transfer the pureed soup back to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the greens and cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until the greens are very tender. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste, season as desired, and serve!
When I first made the soup, it was in the middle of a week of seasonal peaks and valleys temperature, sunny days and drizzle. I enjoyed it for many lunches with a hunk of homemade sourdough and a little salad. It felt like the perfect transition meal between winter and spring: still hearty enough to be warming and grounding, thanks to the chickpea base, but the puréed texture, spring greens, and burst of lemon made it feel fresh, too.
I could imagine making it again very soon, as New York continues to ride the customary April weather. And although I love the chickpeas here, I’m also eager to try it with some white beans.
Wishing you an easy transition between seasons this week, and I’ll see you back here for the usual roundup on Sunday.