This soup is a hearty meal in itself. Chickpeas add a boost of protein while clams are a very good source of iron and selenium, a mineral that may help ward off certain cancers and heart disease.
1 cup (250 mL) dried chickpeas
3 garlic cloves, divided
Leaves from one rosemary sprig
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
1 cup (250 mL) diced fennel, reserving fennel fronds for garnish
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 3/4 lbs (800 g) Manila clams or other small clams, scrubbed and purged
3 cups (750 mL) homemade vegetable stock or organic, low-sodium vegetable stock
3/4 cup (180 mL) small whole wheat soup pasta such as ditalini, orzo, cut spaghetti, or elbow macaroni
1 cup (250 mL) chopped baby spinach
Place chickpeas in large bowl and cover with cold water by 3 in (7.5 cm). Let soak at room temperature overnight.
Drain and rinse chickpeas before placing in large saucepan. Add 5 cups (1.25 L) water, 2 crushed garlic cloves, rosemary, and red pepper flakes (if using). Bring to boil, reduce heat to bare simmer, and cook beans, uncovered, until tender, about 2 hours. Add more water as needed to cover beans. Discard garlic cloves.
In another saucepan, warm oil over medium heat. Add diced fennel and sauté until just starting to soften but not brown, about 5 minutes. Mince remaining garlic clove and add to fennel along with tomatoes and 1/4 cup (60 mL) water. Increase heat to medium-high and add clams. Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook until clams open, about 4 minutes. Discard any clams that have not opened. Remove clams and place in bowl.
Add cooked chickpeas along with their cooking liquid to fennel mixture. Add vegetable stock and bring to simmer over medium heat. Add pasta and cook until just tender but still al dente, about 8 minutes. Stir in clams and spinach and cook another minute. If soup is too thick, adjust the consistency by adding more water. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish with reserved fennel fronds and drizzle of olive oil, if desired, just before serving.
Each serving contains: 423 calories; 43 g protein; 9 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 41 g total carbohydrates (4 g sugars, 8 g fibre); 233 mg sodium
source: "Italian Food the Italian Way", alive #366, April 2013
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