Monday, November 12, 2012

Chickpea Noodle Soup

After being a vegetarian for fiftteen years, I started eating meat again.  Over the years I avoided meat for several reasons.  I orginally gave it up to lose weight.  As a teenager I thought I was fat (much like every crazy girl going through puberty) and believed that cutting out animal flesh would make me look like a model, only to discover that starving yourself and working out three hours a day does that. I kept this up for several years, eventually going vegan and became active in animal rights organizations like PETA. Yeah, I was THAT girl that got dragged away by police officers for barricading the enterance to Macy's chanting "fur is murder".  Ahhhh, those were the days.  I felt very strongly about animal rights and still continue to do so even though I started eating meat.  Yeah, I realize that I'm totally contradicting myself here.  How can you support animal rights and still have a clear conscience about eating meat?

First of all, I'm EXTREMELY picky when it comes to what I eat. Unless I know where it came from, (as in, I can drive to the farm where it was born, raised and salughtered) I won't eat it.  That narrows it down when it comes to eating out or dining elsewhere.  If I'm going to eat meat I want to be sure that the animal was able to roam free and was fed a healthy diet before it's life was taken. You would be be surprised how most animals are raised before their death.  It sickens me and I won't go into to detail, but it's not a pretty picture.

Luckily I have a local co-op that sells local meat, dairy, eggs and sustainable seafood, but it ain't cheap.  I'm willing to pay $6 for a dozen of eggs, but that lasts me at least a week, if not longer.  A whole chicken will run you $25 but will make several meals, including stock.  A pound of bacon might set me back $15, but again I can easily six meals out of this. If you are accustomed to shopping at a typical grocery store you probably think these prices are outrageous (I should note that I get a hefty discount when I shop for being a co-op member).  I agree, it's not cheap, but I also think that you get what you pay for and when it comes to most things in life, it's quality not quantity.  I don't eat meat everyday (I actually only eat it once a week, if that) and enjoy it as more of a side dish than a main. 

We live in a consumer culture where we want more bang for our buck and our food system reflects that.  People can get massive quantites of meat for very little money at most grocery stores.  The more they have, the more they eat, and the more unhealthy they become.  It been proven that countries that eat less meat have less health problems, and just look how healthy we Americans are!

So, here's the lesson: Meat is not unhealthy, nor will it make you fat., just don't go all cray-cray with it. Personally I feel a little healthier when I add a little high quality animal flesh to my diet.  Since local, sustainable meat IS expensive it doesn't always make it to the dinner table, and I'm ok with that.

I had been craving chicken noodle soup for months, but spending $25 on a chicken wasn't in the budget this week. Then, I did what any hippy vegetarian cook would do, and broke out a can of chickpeas.... BOOM.. Chickpea Noodle Soup!

Chickpea Noodle Soup (serves 2)

4 c. vegetable broth
3 T. mellow white miso
1/4 lb. angel hair pasta (spaghetti or linguine work well too)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut on a 1/4" diagonal
3/4 c. chickpeas
1/4 t. poultry seasoning
1 large clove garlic, grated
2 c. kale, stems removed cut into thin ribbons
2 scallion, sliced
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

Cook the angel hair or other noodles of choice until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Place the vegetable broth in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Place the miso in a small bowl and ladel 1/2 c. broth into the bowl.  Whisk until thoroughly mixed.  Add the carrots, chickpeas and poultry seasoning to the remaining stock and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until the carrots are fork tender, about five minutes.  Add the miso/stock mixture back to the pot (be sure not to boil the miso as it will kill the live beneficial bacteria) along with the grated garlic.  Add the kale and cook on low for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Divide the noodles between two bowls and pour the broth mixture over top.  Top with sliced scallions, lots of fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. 

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