Of course, as I am always inclined to do, I made some changes to the original (which you can find here) and substituted less expensive ingredients for some of the pricier ones called for. The results were still delicious.
First off, I noticed the sea salt in the recipe, and knew immediately that I wouldn’t be using that, since it’s much more expensive than the regular table salt I ended up using.
Salt is salt, so there’s simply no reason to pay 5-10x times the price for it, for an absolutely indiscernible difference in flavor. I recommend holding firm against marketing hype and the pressures of lifestyle cachet in making your food choices.
Salt is just one such example.
I suggest using salt and pepper to taste in any recipe, anyway, since it is such a personal preference, so making adjustments to these seasonings – or any other ones, for that matter - is part and parcel of cooking just about any dish.
If I’d had fresh baby spinach on hand from my garden, I would have gone with that, as listed in the recipe, but we don’t have much of a garden this year, so I was not going to pay the $5-$9 per pound for the baby greens that local stores demand most of the time.
Instead, I opted to go for frozen, chopped spinach. Spinach is one of those vegetables where there is no noticeable difference in the final product when it’s cooked, so I always go for whichever product is cheapest.
Sometimes that’s the mature leaf spinach in the produce section, but more often than not, it’s the frozen packages in the freezer section.
The end result was excellent and very satisfying.
It’s a keeper for our family and will be one of the 2-3 recipes I typically add to my regular menu repertoire every year.
I hope you enjoy it as I’ve written it, but feel free to make your own changes and put your own personal stamp on it, as I did.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes approximately 8 hearty servings
Prep Time – Approximately 20 minutes
Total Start to Finish Time – Approximately 30 minutes
Total recipe cost – Approximately $5
Total per person cost with tossed green salad and whole grain bread – Approximately $1
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion
3 medium carrots
3 medium-large celery stalks
3 garlic cloves
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste)
8 cups vegetable broth -OR- 8 cups of water and approximately 2 teaspoons of salt
1 bay leaf
8 ounces whole grain spaghetti (or pasta type of your choice)
2 cans (15-16 ounce size) chickpeas
1 10-ounce package frozen spinach
1 lemon to make 2-3 tablespoons of juice
2-3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice.
Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe continues after photos.
- Cut the ends off the 1 large onion and peel it. Cut them in half through the stem portions, and place each half flat side down on the cutting surface. Slice the onions lengthwise into strips about ¼-inch wide. Cut across the strips to dice the onions. Repeat with the other half.
- Wash and peel or scrub the 3 medium carrots. Cut off the ends, and slice them in half lengthwise. Cut across the long halves to make half moon pieces about ⅛-¼-inch in size.
- Wash the 3 stalks of celery and cut off the ends. Cut the stalks in half lengthwise. Cut across the halves to create pieces about ⅛-¼-inch wide.
- Cut off the tips of the 3 garlic cloves and peel them. Cut them into thin strips, and then cut across the strips repeatedly to create a coarsely chopped consistency. Or you can just mince the garlic in a press, if you’d prefer.
- If you’re using fresh lemon, wash it, and roll it firmly under the palm of your hand on a hard surface. Cut it in half and squeeze it or use a juicer to make 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Or just measure out the 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots, and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the minced or chopped garlic, the ¾ teaspoon of thyme, and the ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the 8 cups of prepared broth or the 8 cups of water and the 1-2 teaspoons of salt, and the bay leaf.
- Cover and bring the contents to a boil over high heat.
- Meanwhile, break the spaghetti strands into halves or thirds.
- Once the broth is boiling, add the broken pasta, re-cover the pot, and bring back to a boil. Reduce the temperature to medium, and cook the pasta for about 9-10 minutes.
- While the pasta is cooking, thaw the spinach in a microwavable container or package on low for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaf from the soup.
- Gently stir in the thawed spinach and heat through for 5 minutes.
- Add the 2 cans of chick peas to the soup and stir to distribute well.
- Remove the soup from direct heat, and stir in the 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the soup with a tossed, green salad and an optional side of whole grain bread.
I hope you like this meal. Enjoy!