This hearty, inexpensive peasant soup is just the thing to keep away the chill of early spring nights. Fiber and protein-packed lentils and chickpeas marry beautifully with onions, tomatoes, and warming spices to keep us healthy and happy until warmer weather comes to stay.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup peeled, cored, chopped fennel bulb
1 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup red onion, chopped
2 14-ounce cans chopped tomatoes with their juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dried lentils (green, brown, red or yellow), picked through and rinsed
4 sprigs fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
2 dried bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons organic sugar or to taste
1. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add fennel. Saute for several minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, around 12 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent but not browned. Add tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring mixture to a simmer. Add ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic, continuing to cook for several minutes.
2. Add vegetable stock, lentils, sprigs of parsley and cilantro, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add salt and pepper to taste, stirring well. Cover the pot and simmer for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add chickpeas and cook uncovered for another 5 to 7 minutes until heated through. Mix well, correct seasoning and add sugar to taste. Remove parsley and cilantro sprigs and bay leaves.
3. Add extra stock to thin if desired, or remove a cup or so of lentils and chickpeas and blend to a puree, returning this to the pot if you want a thicker soup. Serve hot.