This is how many of my decisions begin. For instance, what if I send this email? What if I send this text? What if I approached this topic with X? I could go on and on. Once I have asked myself the what if, I then think, what’s the worst that could happen? In the area of people, it could be getting an answer you didn’t necessarily want to hear (not so bad, not the end of the world), and in the area of food, it could be a bad-tasting dish (again, not so bad, not the end of the world).
I’ve been awfully jumpy lately, exercising my what ifs and what’s the worst that could happens nearly every day in and out of the kitchen. And you know what? Things are turning out okay. The more what ifs I throw out in life, the more comfortable it feels. And the more what ifs I throw out in the kitchen, the more confident my cooking is becoming.
This chickpea soup with fragrant Moroccan spices came about while in the midst of a bunch of life what ifs, and turned out to be a kitchen what if itself. What if… I tried sorghum for the first time? Lucky me, it was a true success. Sorghum, a gluten-free whole grain, has the pleasant chewiness of barley with a mild, sweet flavour much like millet. It can be made into a pilaf, ground into a flour for baking, added to a soup like I’ve done here or popped like popcorn. Sorghum is sturdy, making it ideal for a soup or stew application as the grains stay distinct, not turning into a bowl of mush, which I was concerned about (this recipe’s “what’s the worst that could happen?” if you will). Practicing my what ifs in the kitchen is a nice way to ease into more serious, life what ifs (not to say that soup isn’t serious business).
If my recent life what ifs turn out as tasty as my recent kitchen what ifs, I’ll be in fine shape. Ease into the unknown, take a leap and exercise your kitchen what ifs with this earthy sorghum soup contrasted by a vibrant mint pesto. You’ll either be pleasantly surprised with my recipe or, well, you won’t know until you try, now will you?
Chickpea Soup with Moroccan Spices, Sorghum, & Mint Pesto
This chickpea soup recipe with Moroccan spices, saffron and whole grain (gluten-free) sorghum is topped with a vibrant mint pesto. It’s a vegan main course recipe that’s filling yet light. If you can’t find sorghum, replace with barley (not gluten-free) or long-grain brown rice.
6 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 cup sorghum or long-grain brown rice or barley (barley is not gluten-free)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
11 ounces (3 medium) carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch, saffron threads
1 (19-ounce) can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 ounces (80 grams, 4 cups) fresh mint leaves, stems discarded or saved for another use
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
- Chickpea Soup: In a large pot, bring 3 cups broth and sorghum or rice or barley to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 50 minutes, or until grains are tender. Transfer to a large bowl (do not discard excess broth); set aside.
Heat oil in same pot (no need to clean) over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, cumin and cinnamon. Sauté for 10 minutes, until vegetables are translucent.
Add back cooked sorghum (and its broth), remaining 3 cups broth, saffron, chickpeas and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10–15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Mint Pesto: In a food processor or blender, pulse mint and garlic until finely minced. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Transfer to an airtight glass jar and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze in an ice cube tray (once frozen, pop pesto portions out and transfer to a freezer bag).
- To serve, ladle soup into bowls and spoon over pesto. Serve warm.