I grew up eating a lot of seafood, but combining chick-peas with fish is a very recent thing for me. It all started with Nigella Lawson's recipe for red snapper with chick-peas. I fell in love with the combination and try to serve them together as often as possible. There's something about the soft fish and creamy chick-peas that's very comforting to me. This weekend I made fish stock with the intent of using it to prepare soup. There were many possibilities, but once I remembered this Spanish cod soup with spinach, chick-peas, and parsley, I couldn't get it out of my mind. For one, there's the fish and chick-pea combination, but it also has a vibrant color and taste from fresh spinach, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and toasted almonds. And it contains that culinary workhorse, parsley, which makes it perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by the lovely Kalyn, of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week WHB is being hosted by the equally lovely Coffeepot of Coffee and Cornbread fame.
This recipe is quite simple, and the stock and chick-peas can be made well in advance. The list of ingredients is short, with little prep needed. But, brief as it is, each ingredient provides an essential flavor and texture to the soup. Among them is flat leaf parsley, which always provides a fresh taste to any recipe. I must admit I often take parsley for granted, yet I buy it every week to have on hand, just in case. I can't imagine having a well stocked kitchen without parsley. I do prefer the flat leaf variety, as I find it has a more pronounced flavor. Parsley is said to have the power to calm the stomach and sweeten breathe. I'm not sure about that. But, I know for a fact that if you leave it out of a recipe, its absence is very noticeable.
This is a delicious, low calorie soup that Bob and I enjoyed a great deal. I used my fish stock, which gave the broth a wonderful smell and taste. I've been asked if the fish stock has a fishy odor, and it most certainly does not. It has a faint odor similar to clam chowder, which I find very pleasant. If you don't have fish stock, you could use chicken stock or water as a substitute, but it won't have the depth that fish stock gives it.
Spanish Cod Soup With Spinach, Chick-Peas, and Parsley (James Peterson, Simply Soups)
Note: You can make everything in advance, except poaching the fish. Do that step right before you serve the soup.
fish stock, or chicken stock or water (about 4-6 cups)
2 pounds cod, grouper, or other fish good for poaching
1 cup dry chick peas, soaked overnight
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium sized tomatoes, seeded, peeled, and chopped, or 1-1/2 cups canned tomatoes, drained seeded and chopped
1 large bunch of spinach, stems removed, large leaves torn in half--enough to make 2 cups of tightly packed spinach
2 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Drain the chick peas and combine them with enough fish stock or chicken stock or water to cover them. Bring to a simmer, then cover them and cook gently until they are soft enough to smash a few against the side of the pan. Add more stock or water as the chick peas cook, if necessary--don't let them get dry. Set aside when done.
Heat the olive oil and saute the almonds over medium heat for 5 minutes. Don't let them burn. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes more. Then add the tomatoes, spinach, and parsley and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chick peas to the mixture. Set aside.
Just before serving, put the pieces of fish into a large pan with sides, so that the fish are in a single layer. Add enough cold water (or fish stock) just to barely cover the fish. Bring the water to a simmer over medium high heat, then turn it down to low heat. Let the fish poach until done at about 4 minutes per inch thickness. When done, remove the fish to a heated platter.
Pour the poaching liquid from the fish into the chick-pea mixture and season well. Divide the fish into serving bowls, then ladle the hot soup over it. Serve with hot crusty bread.