Gentle Nutrition - Easy Tomato Chickpea Soup
I've long loved a tomato soup. I'm sure my mother can attest to that. It was mostly Campbell's Tomato back then, with grated cheddar and Ritz. Yum. She actually delivered some homemade tomato parmesan soup to my door last week. I'm very lucky.
Gentle nutrition is the last principle in the Intuitive Eating process. It's last for a reason. This can throw people off when just starting on their intuitive eating journey. But trust me, it is very hard, sometimes impossible to look at the nutritiousness of your diet in a gentle and compassionate way if you're still stuck in the diet mindset, working on allowing all foods equally, or not quite able to hear your hunger and fullness cues. All of this takes work and patience. At some point in the process, however, you may start noticing that all the nutrition advice you've soaked in over the years through diets, the media, the nutrition police, start to feel like wispers rather than shouts. Those rules are no longer rules. I like to describe them as lowercase advice given with a hug, rather than yelling with a wagging finger. However you want to imagine it, in time, you can start to use nutrition information in a gentle and loving way.
Once really nice way to use gentle nutrition is to combine it with some nostalgia from your past. Bam - tomato soup. Making a pot of soup (not just any soup - a GOOD SOUP) to have around the house for the work week makes my lunchtimes more delicious, more seamless, and just better. I have them with a big slice of crusty bread, often with a chunk of cheese. I don't skimp on the fat. Don't fall into the trap of trying to make soup too "clean". That's not what we're doing here.
Over the years, with experimentation on my quest to make my food as delicious as possible, I've grown quite fond of the darling chickpea. This little funny-shaped bean is unique in it's beaniness. It's high in iron (the richest of the beans), and has lots of protein and fiber, of course. Plus, in my opinion, excellent right out of the can. A great topping for salad or in a rice bowl type of thing, great smashed, baked, sautéed - you name it. Best bean award. Unless you want to start talking Rancho Gordo - then we're having a different conversation.
A couple years ago I heard the chef from the vegetarian restaurant in NYC, Dirt Candy on NPR talking about how easy it was to make soup. I adored her attitude 'it's no big deal its just soup throw it in a pot whatever'. I wanted to be more like that - easy, light, flexible, soupy. I'm generally a recipe follower, which works well for me, but sometimes I love the ease of throwing something together with what I have. I hear this a lot from my nutrition counseling clients too, that they feel like they "should" be able to improvise. Honestly, I think improvising is overrated, there's nothing wrong with following a recipe. You are more likely to get the best results. But on the other hand, if you're looking for some inspiration on the improv, this is a good place to start.
As I heard this chef cooly describe how to make this soup, I was intrigued by how this professional chef was being so cavalier about proportions on national public radio. And I was drooling... I could taste the deep and bright tomatoes - and out of a can! It turned out perfectly and was just as easy as she described it. I gulped it down and have made it many times since. And I'm convinced not one single human would argue. Kids too. One caveat - lemon zest. I don't know what to tell you - go get a zester right now. This is my most used utensil behind my big knife.
I this this is a great lunch - filling, bright, super nutritious, and delicious. You could add some crusty bread on the side or serve it was a salad. Don't skimp on the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at the end. You know how to use soup.
Ok, the recipe:
Please - do not skip the lemon and parsley. They are as important as the tomatoes.
1 medium red onion, diced fine
5 gloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes (get high quality ones if you can)
2 cans chickpeas, or 4 cups dried beans, cooked
zest and juice of one lemon, plus another lemon for serving
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water
1-2 cups cooked whole grains - farro or barley work best, but rice would work too (I added this but is totally optional, especially if you're going the crusty bread route - gotta get those carbs in)
lotsa chopped parsley (1/2 a bunch or so)
Cook grains according to direction on the package.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large stockpot over medium heat. Once warmed, add red onion. Stir and cook 2-3 minutes until starting to soften. Lower heat to low and add minced garlic, red pepper, and salt. Cook 15-20 minutes, or until very soft. If things are getting dry in there, add a tablespoon of water, or oil.
Add tomatoes and their juice, chickpeas (drained and rinsed), and 2 cups of water. Cook over medium-low heat until hot - about 10 minutes. Add cooked grains and cook another minute or two.
Add juice of 1 lemon, and 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Serve! More lemon and parsley are always welcome. And a drizzle of olive oil is quite nice.
Alright, I hope you try it and enjoy some lunch. I'd love to hear any comments below and if you're struggling with figuring out how to incorporate gentle nutrition on your journey to healing your relationship to food, reach out for help. The kitchen can be a safe space.