My cilantro plant is monstrous. Really. Not sure what in the heck has gotten into it, but it is THRIVING hard core. Maybe it's just really happy to be nestled between two Lemon Drop tomato plants, which are doing super well too, knock on wood. (Last year all of my twelve tomato plants were completely wiped out by blight, which took hold on the Prairies majorly last summer. I scaled back to 4 plants this year, and I'm really really hoping to have a good crop. Blight be damned!)
So what's a girl to do with all of this cilantro? Some of you may have stopped reading already because you hate cilantro. Don't give up on it! Cilantro has a bright flavour, and yes, it can be a bit much when over done, so use sparingly, but in Mexican and Asian dishes, it really is a must have. I wanted to make Mexican Tortilla Soup, but alas had no corn tortillas kicking around, but I DID have a few squares of this incredible foccacia left from the weekend. Let me tell you, bathed in a little extra virgin olive oil, and tossed with some coarse salt, baked until golden, these were the best croutons I've ever had. Lucky any of them made it into the soup!
This soup has similar flavours and textures to the Mexican Tortilla Soup - spicy, bright, crunchy, creamy avocado amazingness. I used some good chicken stock I had made with the bones from this lovely bird, frozen a couple of months ago, and time to use it up. Added some ripe Roma tomatoes, plenty of garlic, some diced jalapeno, red onion, and it was a pretty tasty broth in no time. You could use chicken in place of the chickpeas, but I had none on hand, and I'm of lover of this legume, so I tossed them in. At the last second added the chopped cilantro, then scooped into bowls, garnished with amazing croutons and chunks of avocado, and a squeeze of lime. Don't think it's impossible to make or eat soup in summer. This one is perfect because it's light, so incredibly flavourful, and a great way to use up any extra herbs or tomatoes you may have kicking around. Not to mention it was ready in under 30 minutes! Done deal!
I'm not sure what my favourite part of this creation is - the crunch of the crouton; the spicy, limey broth; the bit when you get some chickpea AND some crouton AND some avocado in the same bite. So. Good. Nights like tonight I'm kind of glad I was eating alone, because after I took these photos, I slurped up both of these bowls of soup, with the broth running down my chin and I didn't care one bit.
Mexican Tomato Chickpea Soup
2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, and finely chopped, or leave some seeds in for however spicy you like
6 cups chicken broth, or veggie broth, organic or homemade
2 tsp sugar
4 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 can (540ml) of chickpeas, rinsed very well
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 lime, cut into sections of 6 or so
In a large pot, heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent...add the garlic and jalapeno pepper. Cook a couple of minutes. Add your broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add chopped tomatoes and sugar. Simmer 10 minutes, add the chickpeas, simmer 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Adjust seasonings...a bit more salt, or spiciness, you decide. Scoop into bowls and garnish with more cilantro, lime wedges, croutons and avocado. Serves 3-4.
If you like, you can always substitute fresh basil for the cilantro, and it would still be delicious!
Look at that monster in the middle!!!