Friday, March 5, 2010

Soul Food/Chickpea Parsnip Soup

As a budding food photographer with little knowledge of photography in general, I always find myself wondering how and why certain pictures come out better than others. I usually gauge this based on which pictures are accepted or rejected by Tastespotting and Foodgawker, those two food photography blogs that take the notion of food porn to a new level. Seriously, I have gotten multiple friends addicted to these sites and they love/hate me for it. So as I was questioning my photography the other day I turned to my best friend who, lucky for me, is also a photographer. Wifey, as I fondly refer to her, takes some of the most beautiful pictures I have seen and I am convinced that this is because of her beautiful soul. To see what I am talking about, go to This week when I asked her why soup always looks so beautiful in pictures her very simple and honest response was that soup just is beautiful, because it's comforting and it heals your soul.
Soul is a funny word, it get's thrown around all the time yet so few of us actually understand what it means. Soul food, soul music, soul mate; something about all of these makes them sound like the epitome of their kind. I confess, I too throw around the word soul a lot and although I may not fully understand its meaning or significance I know that it is something that I want to believe in. I want to believe that everything is made up of more than it's physicality, because to believe this is to have hope. Actually I think it shows faith, we may not always know what it is in someone or in music or in food that makes it better or healing, but that power is undeniably there. To accept this without fully knowing what it is renders the notion of soul both more foreign and more exciting to me.
Well I assure you, although I can't specifically identify it, this soup has soul. The color isn't striking and the ingredients aren't necessarily special, but as a whole it truly is beautiful. Somehow both the parsnips and the chickpeas shine and their flavors are deepened and amplified by the savory spice of the garam masala. The addition of tahini gives it a nutty creaminess that is unparalleled and provides the "what's that?" flavor in the background. It may seem that this is a description of the soul of this soup, but these are only the flavors. There is something else to it, something healing, comforting and satisfying; if this ingredient were available in a store I would buy it in bulk. In the meantime I just have faith that it will keep sneaking its way in at the times when my soul needs it most and so far I haven't been let down.
Chickpea and Parsnip Soup
yield 2 quarts

5 parsnips, chopped
2-19 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
4 cups water
1 tablespoon tahini

1) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spices and heat until fragrant, another 2 minutes.
2) Add the parsnips, chickpeas and water to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, until the parsnips are tender.
3) Take the soup off the heat and puree thoroughly with a handheld blender. Stir in the tahini.
4) Garnish with Chickpea Nuts.


pdc said...

never thought that an off white looking soup could look good in a photograph
now i have to make it to enjoy the taste and soul of this soup

Patty said...

I tried this soup and it really did have "soul", thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

Delicious! My boyfriend and I both love it!

Amy said...

Yummy :) Thanks for the recipe.

Carrie said...

Very delicious recipe,I tried this soup and it really did have "soul",thnx for posting.

Becky said...

Well, Thanks for the recipe, i must try this at home.

Sadie said...

Interesting post, thanx for the share.

Allison Clark said...

Yummy treat. I will really try this at home. Thanks for the recipe. Do you still any other recipes?