This chunky soup is made even more interesting with the addition of diced pears and a classic Catalan picada thickener of garlic, almonds and bread. In Morocco, lentils might be used instead of chickpeas or white beans.
Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 cup small dried white beans, such as Great Northern
- 2 quarts plus 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup diced ham
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- Pinch of saffron, steeped in 1/4 cup hot chicken stock or water
- 12 almonds
- 1 slice bread, cut in half
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped pumpkin or butternut squash
- 3 pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into chunks
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 Pick over the chickpeas and white beans, and discard any misshapen beans and stones. Rinse the chickpeas and beans and drain. Place in a bowl, add water to cover generously and let soak overnight, then drain.
- 2 In a saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the chickpeas and beans and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chickpeas and beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- 3 Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the ham and paprika, mixing well, and then mix in the tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the saffron and stock to the pan, mix well and set aside.
- 4 In another sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil. Add the almonds, bread and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the almonds, bread and garlic to a mortar or a small food processor. Grind with a pestle or process to a paste. Add the vinegar, mixing well. Set aside.
- 5 After the chickpeas and white beans have cooked for 1 hour, add the pumpkin and pears and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, stir in the tomato-onion mixture, the green beans and the bread mixture, and simmer until the green beans and pumpkin are tender and the flavors are blended, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- 6 Ladle into warmed bowls and serve immediately.