Tuscan chickpea soup and pesto grilled cheese sandwiches
This was the scene at the farm:
It was dark outside. There was a cold wind blowing, but all the stars were shining bright in the sky. The animals were all safely tucked away in the barn for the night with dry straw, and green hay. Safe and warm.
A doe with two fawns was milling around the yard, while another raccoon was trying to break into the house through the basement door.
The dogs had been fed and were content.... relaxing on the couch on a fleece blanket while the wood stove burned dry ash and made the house smell of wood, fire, warmth.
Chores were done for the day... And there was a big pot of hot soup bubbling away on the stove.
And we ate the soup.
Pesto Parmesan grilled cheese sandwich
adapted from Two peas in a pod
2 slices of your favorite bread
1 Tbs butter, for brushing bread
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbs basil pesto
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat a non stick pan over medium heat.
Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Spread basil pesto on the inside of each slice of bread. Put some shredded mozzarella cheese on one slice of the bread, and make your sandwich. I used shredded mozz because I like the way it melts on the sandwich.
Pour your shredded Parmesan cheese onto a place and press each buttered side of your sandwiches down on the cheese.
Cook until golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Tuscan chickpea soup
4 Tbs Olive oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled (whole)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into two inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped in two inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into big strips
2 cans chickpeas, drained
2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 cups chicken broth
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Place first 7 ingredients on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toss to coat all veggies with oil. Sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until chickpeas and veggies are beginning to turn golden and caramelize. Stir every 10 minutes during roasting time.
While veggies are roasting combine chicken broth, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves in a large stock pot. Bring to a simmer. Add veggies when they are finished roasting.
Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Veggies should all be super tender. Remove from heat, pull out bay leaves. Puree with either a stick blender, a traditional blender, or a food processor. If using a traditional blender, or food processor, allow soup to cool down before blending. If soup is too thick, add a little more chicken broth to thin to desired consistency.
Add a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella to each bowl of hot soup and let it melt into the soup and become all stringy and delicious.
You'll get quite a bit of soup with this recipe, but it's completely worth it. It's great the next day and also freezes really well. So I would suggest making the full amount, I don't think you'll be sorry.