Mushroom, Greens, and Chickpea Soup

The professional kitchen I worked in was awesome. Lots of room and if you were there at the right time not too crowded. My American kitchen at home was small by newer standards; people would comment about how I was able to do so much stuff in it, but I had a great stovetop, quality pots and pans I amassed over twenty years, and lots of kitchen tools. Now there is a small electric stovetop which does not respond to my wants no matter how much I dial the numbers up or down.

Our flat in Porto is lovely. There’s lots of light, hardwood floors, and plenty of space, but our kitchen is tiny. There is barely room for a cutting board at the side of the stove. While our stuff is being shipped over and is still someplace in the middle of the Atlantic, I have: a small frying pan, a small sauce pan, a big soup pot, a paring knife, a serrated knife, a vegetable peeler, and one small cutting board. I don’t even have a cheese grater. I bought some pre-grated Parmesan the other day and it was horrible.

We bought the cheapest pans we could find at the closest department store. They are awful.  They bulge up in the middle so that no matter how much oil you put in there’s a gap in the center it can never cover. After this I firmly recommend going out of your way to hit up Ikea. At least their pans have flat bottom and are good quality for the price.

But cooking must go on. For a couple of weeks while we dealt with bureaucracy, I got by with roasting things and frying some steaks. Now I am focusing on the kitchen again. While I adjust, I’m cooking food that doesn’t require too many tools or too much space.

This recipe of Mushroom, Greens, and Chickpea Soup is light, healthy vegetarian fare that only requires one large pot, a cutting board, a vegetable peeler, and whatever knife you have.

You can use whatever greens are handy. For my version I used turnip tops (called nabiça in Portuguese). Some greens will require less time, some more time depending on what you have. Spinach will take very little time and you’ll want to give the rest of the ingredients time to meld before putting it in; collard greens will need longer. If you are not sure, the best thing to do is taste them to see if they have softened to you liking.

Of course you can use homemade cooked chickpeas instead of a can, but don’t feel any shame if you too busy/ have not planned ahead and need use canned chickpeas. If you are inclined, you can hold onto the water. It is called aquafaba and can be used as an egg substitute in vegan baking.

Mushroom, Greens, and Chickpea Soup


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Spinach and Mushrooms on Garlic Toast

Spinach, mushrooms, and garlic are a heavenly combination. This simple dish is one of my favorite lunches. You could toss a fried egg on top and call it breakfast. Make it quite peppery. Serve it on whole grain bread for a healthy meal.

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 cloves garlic
1 pound spinach
4 slices country bread
salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in roomy skillet, add mushrooms, and cook over medium high heat until they have released their juices, and just started to brown, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from pan.

Return pan to heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and one clove of garlic, thinly sliced. Add the spinach, sprinkle with salt, and cook until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan and toss with the spinach. Taste for salt and pepper.

Brush bread slices with olive oil. Slice remaining garlic clove in half and rub onto bread. Place on wire rack under broiler. Toast until browned. Flip to toast alternate side.

Place bread on plates, top with mushrooms and spinach, and enjoy.

Serves 2-4