Do you ever buy the same item every week at the grocery store, only to discover you had six more of them sitting at home? For some reason, on my usual pass down the frozen foods aisle, I always grab a bag of organic spinach. I think, this will save me a trip to the store when there is nothing fresh in the produce bin. But upon digging through my freezer and finding it crammed full of spinach bags, I realized it was time to start using them.
So I came up with this silky and aromatic soup, which resembles a Palak (Indian for spinach) Soup but without the traditional additions of cream and butter. The recipe consists entirely of on-hand ingredients, a beauty thing. To add some crunch, I fried chickpeas in a spiced-up rice flour batter and sprinkled them on top. Of course, those crispy little nibbles ended up being the hit of dinner. Be sure to serve extra in a bowl on the side and watch them disappear. They would make an addictive Superbowl snack so fans, take note. Enjoy this soup with whole wheat naan, couscous, or polenta. And then thank me for freeing up some space in your freezer!
Serves 6 as a first course
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup white miso paste
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen spinach
a 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
1-1/2 quarts best-quality vegetable or chicken broth
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
A squeeze of lime juice to garnish (optional)
Fried Chick Peas
4-6 cups canola or grapeseed oil
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and dried well on kitchen towels
1-1/4 cups rice flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1 cup beer
1. For the soup, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes.
2. Add the curry powder, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon stick and stir to combine. Cook for a minute until fragrant.
3. Add the miso paste and stir to distribute. Add the spinach. Squeeze the grated ginger into the pot, discarding the pulp. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender and the flavors have incorporated, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then blend the soup in small batches until smooth, adjusting seasoning as needed. Keep warm while you prepare the Fried Chick Peas.
4. Pour the grapeseed oil into a heavy pot or cast iron skillet and heat over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles rapidly. To avoid splatters, have a fry cover on hand. In a medium bowl, stir together the rice flour, spices and sea salt. While whisking, add the beer and egg and blend until smooth. The mixture should be the consistency of melted ice cream. Add more beer if necessary to thin the batter. Working in small batches, coat the chick peas in batter, carefully drop them into the hot oil a few at a time (they will splatter so keep your distance), and deep-fry until golden, a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels. Season with salt and keep warm.
5. To serve the soup, ladle it into bowls and sprinkle a few warm fried chick peas in the middle. Squeeze a little lime juice over the top. Alternatively, transfer the soup to a large container, cool, and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze.