Turkish Chickpea Soup with Farro and Spinach

It's no secret that soup is good for you.  For years, chicken soup has been touted as a cure for the common cold, and more recently, our grandmothers' claims to that effect have been backed up by medical research.  Even if you aren't suffering from a cold, soups are a great way to use up vegetables (or even fruits!) that you have lingering on the counter or in the fridge.  They are also helpful in maintaining a healthy weight, being often low-calorie yet flavorful and satisfying.

One soup that I recently made is similar to the Turkish Maras corbasi.  It is a sour soup with farro (wheatberries), chickpeas, lentils and spinach.  It's made sour by using an ingredient that is somewhat unusual outside of the Middle East: dried sumac.  Dried sumac is made from the fruit of the Rhus Coriaria, or Elm-leaved Sumac plant.  The fruit is harvested, dried and crushed with a bit of salt to draw out any moisture.  Although uncommon in the rest of the world, the spice is used extensively throughout the Middle East, appearing in sauces, soups, salads, hummus and meat dishes.

For this version of the soup, you will need:

  • 8 C water
  • 3/4 C parboiled farro (wheatberries)
  • 3/4 C red lentils
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp dried sumac
  • 1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 C chopped spinach

To begin with, heat your water in a large pot until boiling.  Once it boils, add the farro and lentils.  Reduce heat to simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

While that is cooking, you can chop your spinach, if you haven't already done so.  Juice your lemon and mince your garlic.

At the end of the 15 minutes, stir in the tablespoon of tomato paste and the chickpeas.  Stir well to incorporate the tomato paste and then add the spices.

Allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes and then stir in the garlic, spinach and lemon juice.  Simmer gently for another 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Serve hot with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or a bit of crumbled feta, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Aleppo pepper.  If you're like Bulldozer, try it all mixed together!  (Although I'm not sure he's the best person to imitate - he wanted to put sliced banana in, too...)

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