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Soup’s on – Olla Gitana

Posted by Jeanne on November 1, 2009

We eat a lot of soup – soups are one of my favorite things to cook and to eat.  I worked in an Italian restaurant when I was in high school and college, and I have fond memories of their stracciatella.  I think I ate it every day I worked – I would still probably eat it several times a week if I could.

But stracciatella is another post, and anyway, soup.  Soup is good.

This soup is VERY good.

Olla Gitana (Gypsy Pot), found on The Traveler’s Lunchbox

Serves: 4-6

Source:  slightly adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen

2 14-oz (400g) cans chickpeas, drained

1 fat carrot, peeled and thickly sliced

9-10 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 lb. pumpkin or butternut squash (I used a funky hard orange squash – not a clue what kind, except that it was definitely not a pumpkin), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

Mystery squash!

10 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

2 small slightly underripe pears (such as Anjou), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

a handful of blanched almonds (I left these out because I didn’t have any almonds at all – I think they would add some extra body to the soup and will try to use them next time)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sweet paprika (not smoked)

2 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (I used canned diced tomatoes)

1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled and steeped in a few spoonfuls of hot stock for fifteen minutes

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste (completely forgot this part!  I suck at this game.)

2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint

crusty bread and butter for serving (you can also easily serve this over rice or couscous)

Combine the chickpeas, carrots and enough stock to come about 1 1/2 inches above the top in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the squash, green beans and pears and season with salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the vegetables have softened, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, leaving behind as much oil as possible, and set aside.  Add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds, add the tomatoes and a few tablespoons of the soup liquid and cook until the tomatoes soften and reduce, about 7 minutes. Gently stir the tomato mixture and the saffron into the pot with the chickpeas.

Continue cooking until all the vegetables are very soft and the pumpkin is almost falling apart, 5-7 minutes longer, adding more broth if the stew seems too thick. Meanwhile place the fried garlic and almonds in a food processor or coffee grinder and grind until finely ground (you can also use a mortar and pestle).  Stir in the vinegar, and add this to the pot with the chickpeas. (I skipped both of these steps, since I had no almonds and completely forgot about the vinegar.)  Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper and/or vinegar if necessary. Let the stew cool for about 10 minutes. Garnish with the mint and serve with lots of crusty bread.

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Even though I screwed it up, this is still a GREAT soup.  Even better the next day too.  I bet if I actually followed the recipe, it would be even better still!

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One Response to “Soup’s on – Olla Gitana”

  1. […] Olla gitana […]

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