Friday, January 24, 2014

Foodie Fridays: Tomato, Chickpea, and Coconut Soup

I love tomato soup, especially with a grilled cheese sandwich, but I am almost always trying to find ways to liven it up.  Tomato, Chickpea, and Coconut Soup is a more exotic version -- the perfect solution!  It is also quite healthy, and this is the time of year, right after the holidays, when I am particularly in need of foods that are good for me.  If they also taste great and are quick and easy to prepare, then I am happy to eat them, and this soup fits all the criteria.  Now if only I could find low-calorie, low-fat, sugar-free, healthy recipes for my favorite desserts, eating right would be a breeze!

Tomato, Chickpea, and Coconut Soup

1 T. olive or coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic (no need to chop)
1-2 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
salt and pepper to taste
1 T. sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. sugar (optional)
2-3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves removed (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 can (16 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 C. coconut milk (or heavy cream)
1 1/2 C. water or stock
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a stock pot, sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until soft.  Add the garlic, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook one minute longer.  Stir in the vinegar, then the tomatoes, sugar, and thyme leaves.  Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and water.  Cover and simmer gently for 20-30 minutes.  Purée the soup (if using a blender, allow the soup to cool slightly first).  Adjust the seasonings.  If using the cheese, stir it in now.  Add more water to thin the soup if necessary.  Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with thyme leaves, red chile flakes, and/or a drizzle of olive oil if desired.  Serve with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich.  Serves 4.

Note: This soup tastes best if made ahead, cooled, and then reheated, which allows time for the flavors to meld and develop.  Also, for something a little different, try cutting your grilled cheese sandwich into small pieces and floating the pieces on top of the soup as croutons!

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