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Where EAST meets the Northwest

SMOOTH & GARLICKY. This recipe for Chickpea and Garlic Soup with Cumin-Spiced Butter features canned chickpeas, and their super-starchy liquid, which helps create a creamy, velvety consistency. (Milk Street via AP)

From The Asian Reporter, V34, #3 (March 4, 2024), page 8.

Canned chickpeas — and their liquid — create an elegant, garlicky soup

By Christopher Kimball

Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

Though we often prefer the flavor and texture of dried beans, canned beans have a leg up besides convenience — the super-starchy liquid in which the beans are packed is like an ingredient itself. Reserving the liquid to add to a soup or stew as it simmers lends body and creates a creamier, velvety consistency.

We use the liquid too in this recipe from our book, Cook What You Have, which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals. It adds richness to an elegant soup built on puréed chickpeas and a whole head of slowly simmered garlic.

Cumin, cayenne, and garlic add a bold kick to complement the chickpeas’ earthiness, while carrots and onion add sweetness.

If you own an immersion blender, you can use it to purée the soup directly in the saucepan; the texture won’t be perfectly smooth, but the flavors still will be great.

Editor’s note: To view additional recipes, visit <>.

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Chickpea and Garlic Soup with Cumin-Spiced Butter

Start to finish: 1 hour (25 minutes active)

Servings: 4

5 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, divided

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

3 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, plus another ¼ teaspoon (optional)

Two 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, 1 cup liquid reserved, rinsed and drained

1 head garlic, outer papery skins removed, top third cut off and discarded

1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, carrots, and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and the 1 cup reserved liquid, the garlic, 4 cups water, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft when the head is squeezed with tongs, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat. Squeeze the garlic cloves from the head into the chickpea mixture; discard the empty skins. Let the chickpea mixture cool for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the butter has stopped foaming, 1 to 1½ minutes. Add the sesame seeds and another ¼ teaspoon cayenne (if using); cook, stirring, until the sesame seeds are toasted and fragrant, about 1½ minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered.

Using a blender and working in batches so the jar is never more than half full, purée the chickpea mixture until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and cook over medium-low, stirring often, until warmed through, 2 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup directly in the saucepan.) Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with the butter mixture.

Optional garnishes: Lemon wedges or chopped fresh cilantro, or both.

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