Bloomington Farmers Market and Chickpea Andouille Soup with Greens

This week has not been the kind of weather I expect as spring heads full blast towards summer. After days of sunshine and temperatures in the 80s, of sun-dresses and iced tea on the patio at Soma Coffee Shop and Juice Bar in downtown Bloomington, I was surprised by a sudden 30 degree drop and the arrival of thunderstorms, cold rain and even cooler air. Yesterday was day two of the cold weather and I had a lot of free time on my hands.

The month of May, now that my classes are over, has been slower than I thought it would be. Getting approval from the Institutional Review Board to do my research was a fast process, and my grants were disbursed without any hitches. So Tuesday found me at home, avoiding the gym and the reading I had planned to do in preparation for the field, with nothing else that I really needed to do. I decided to make bread, and set about stirring together the sponge for my Mom's all purpose recipe.

I went to the Bloomington Farmers Market this past Saturday and found it full to bursting of greens. Collards, five kinds of kale, Swiss chard, lettuces of all sorts, fresh picked spinach, watercress, dandelions and arugula. I loaded up on some Swiss chard, kale, watercress and bok choi. I already have plenty of lettuce on my balcony!

It was a cold day, with a brisk wind keeping customers and farmers alike shivering. But signs of spring were everywhere:

So this Tuesday I began thinking about what I would cook to go with the bread:

I had a bunch of left over chickpeas from the last batch I had cooked which I had planned to make into hummus, but the weather called for a different preparation. Normally I would have made my standard chickpea and pasta soup, but I didn't need pasta on top of the bread I was already making, and I had a lot of greens to get rid of. A walk to Bloomingfoods (a local food cooperative store) led me to procure a pack of humanely raised pork andouille sausage and some fair trade organic red wine from South Africa. A delicious idea was wafting through my mind: a deep rich broth filled with the flavour of andouille, soft savory greens, hearty chickpeas and tomato.

So I set to work and ended up with a bowl of the perfect hearty soup for a cool spring day. Along with the freshly made whole grain bread and a glass of wine. This is a simple recipe that begs for quality ingredients and is open to experimentation. I think it would be great with cannelini beans instead of chickpeas, and that an equally tasty version could be made with chorizo instead of andouille sausage. And omitting the sausage and replacing chicken bouillon with vegetable results in an equally good vegetarian soup.

Chickpea Andouille Soup with Greens

3 cups cooked chickpeas (may use canned, if washed and drained)
4 ounces pork andouille sausage, thinly sliced (or omit or substitute another sausage of your choice)
1 large bunch kale, collards or Swiss chard (about 6 cups with any tough stems removed and thinly sliced)
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
Water (3-6 cups as needed)
About 1/2 cup of your favorite red wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Oregano and basil, dried
Red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon or to taste)


1.Wash your greens of choice thoroughly. Cut out any tough stems off and chiffonade: stack the leaves up several at a time, roll them into a tube, then thinly slice with a sharp knife. They will come out in thin strips.
2. Thinly slice the sausage. Heat the oil on medium heat in a large pot, then add the sausage and cook for several minutes. Add the greens and stir, cooking until wilted. Add red pepper flakes, garlic, black pepper, oregano and basil to your taste. I like a good teaspoon of red pepper flakes and half a teaspoon of oregano, with just a touch of black pepper and basil.
3. Stir and cook for another minute or two, then add the tomatoes and chickpeas, chicken bouillon and enough water to make plenty of broth for dunking your bread. Add the red wine and let simmer for at least half an hour, preferably longer, to let the flavours meld.
4. Serve with slivers of Parmesan on top, and a hearty baguette or multigrain bread, something with a crust to soak up all the delicious broth.

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