Healing Chickpea Noodle Soup

WHAT A WEEK! For so long, I wanted to fast forward to this moment. Past the US election, past my thesis defense, and past my German immigration appointment to renew my visa. Everything about those events was nerve-wracking, but now that I’m on the other side of them, I don’t feel all that much better.

This has been a week of milestones. US Americans battled voter suppression and a pandemic to usher in a new president and the first Black, South Asian, woman vice president. However, it took nearly a week to determine the winner. On the third day of vote-counting, I defended my master’s thesis, bringing to a close three years of graduate studies in Berlin and officially obtaining my Master of Science in environmental science. Then, because my student visa had expired, I had to quickly gather all of the required documentation to present to the German immigration office to receive an 18-month visa to seek employment in Germany. So generous, right? For comparison, international students in the US must leave the country within 60 days after completing their studies and can only stay if they get married to an American or get a job. Even though the German immigration process is so much quicker and more welcoming, it was a moment when the course of my life felt out of my control. Thankfully, it was quick and painless, unlike the immigration saga I went through in the US with my Brazilian husband, but that is a story for another day!

Now that I’m on the other side of these events, I’m exhausted, and despite all of my daily hygiene precautions, I somehow caught a cold (don’t worry, it’s just a cold). I wanted to spend this week celebrating: ordering takeout, maybe baking a cake, definitely drinking bubbly drinks, and generally lazing about the house. I’m doing only the latter, but only because of a relentless headache that is only beginning to let up. I feel like my body held it together to let me get through the past week, but the moment I crossed the finish line, it demanded a break. Turns out, getting sick after an incredibly stressful period is common, and it’s called “the let-down effect.”

I’ve craved hearty, simple, comfort food throughout the roller coaster ride of the past week. This soup is my go-to for those moments when my appetite is hanging on by a thread, and my body yearns for comfort. You know that chicken noodle soup you used to eat when you were sick? The one that warms your core and feels like it can cure any illness? I tried to achieve that healing sensation with this soup, only without the meat.

There is a secret ingredient to this recipe, and it’s one I’ve mentioned before. Into the soup, I throw in a hard cheese rind like parmesan or Grana Padano. I first heard about this tip in An Everlasting Meal, an excellent cooking resource for newbies and foodies. Whenever I shred a piece of aged, hard cheese down to the rind, I don’t throw that hard slice out; there’s use in her yet! I just plop her in a little ziplock baggie that lives in the freezer with all the other cheese rinds. Adding a cheese rind to any clear broth, vegetable soup will boost its flavor. You can use a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast or some chopped up dried mushrooms for a vegan alternative.

Hopefully, this soup helps you recover from any bug you’ve caught from the cold weather or “the let-down effect.” It really does the trick for me.

Healing Chickpea Noodle Soup

Recipe adapted from Vegan for Everybody

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 onion or leek, diced
  • 2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 or 3 celery stocks or a chunk of celery root, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 6 cups (1.5 liters) water
  • 1-2 vegetable broth cubes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 hard cheese rind OR 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast OR diced dried mushrooms
  • 7 ounces (200 gr) of your favorite small pasta, or eyeball the amount you want
  • A squeeze of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon white vinegar (optional)

Steps

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for the required time. Strain, rinse with cold water, strain again, and then pour into a Tupperware with some olive oil. Storing the pasta separate from the soup will ensure your pasta stays al dente and doesn’t turn to mush.
  2. While the pasta cooks, dice up all of your vegetables.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot. Sautee the carrots, onions (or leek), and celery (or celery root) with salt over medium-high heat until onions are translucent. Toss in the garlic and thyme. Stir and heat up for a minute. Toss in the chickpeas, water, broth cubes, and parmesan rind (or nutritional yeast or dried mushrooms). Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the cheese rind. Taste and add salt. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar if desired.
  5. To serve, just place a few spoonsful of pasta in the base of your bowl and pour the soup on top.

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