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Curried Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes, Ginger and Cilantro

This soup is from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook, a book full of imaginative vegetarian recipes. Rebar restaurant, which first opened in 1988 and still going strong, was a frontrunner in the concept of healthy food and environmental conscience. The cozy and casual restaurant was a favourite haunt of mine when we lived in Victoria and I worked in Bastion Square where the small and always crowded establishment is located. This book is full of nourishing and tasty recipes and whenever I cook from it, I remember many meals shared at Rebar with friends.

The long list of ingredients in some of the recipes in this book can be daunting, but the result is worth the effort.

8 c. vegetable stock
2 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 t. Kosher salt
2 bay leaves
8 garlic cloves
3 T. minced ginger
2  jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 red pepper
6 tomatoes
1 t. cumin seed
1 t. coriander seed
1 t. paprika
1 t. garam masala
1/ 4 t. ground black pepper
1/8 t. turmeric
3 c.  canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 prepared mango chutney
1/2 can coconut milk
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Heat the oil in a soup pot and add onion, 1 t. salt and bay leaves. Sauté until the onions are soft and golden. Meanwhile, place the garlic, ginger, jalapenos, pepper and tomatoes in a food processor and pulse until the vegetables form a rough purée. Set aside.

Grind the cumin and coriander seeds and add these and all remaining spices to the sautéed onions and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Add the vegetable purée and another teaspoon of salt and simmer slowly for a few minutes. Add the chickpeas and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook several minutes, then add the chutney and coconut milk. Using a potato masher, gently mash the chickpeas to break them up slightly and thicken the soup. Simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cilantro just before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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