Last week's election was one of those days I'll always remember, down to the smallest details: the excitement on everyone's faces emerging from the voting booths, the album I listened to when waiting in line to vote (Vampire Weekend's Vampire Weekend), nervously refreshing NYT.com a million times at work, what I wore (a purple sweater vest over a white t-shirt and jeans), and most importantly, what I ate.
Instead of going out to watch the returns, Dan and I decided to hunker down in our apartment with our neighbor Caledonia (of peach jam fame) and her adorable daughter Selena. We've only hung out together a few times, and mostly know each other in the unfamiliar-yet-entirely-intimate way of being neighbors in an old building with thin walls. But we both wanted to be home on election night and agreed it would be more fun to spend it together. The day before, Caledonia emailed me to say she would make soup and Selena would make cookies, and I agreed to provide the salad and wine. This was not a time to fuss with food--my stomach was in knots the entire day. More than anything, I just wanted a strong drink.
But when I walked into Caledonia's apartment and smelled this spicy, tomato-ey aroma, I instantly relaxed a bit and exhaled the breath I had been holding all day long. There was soup. Everything would be okay, no matter what. We poured wine, gathered around the TV, and cheered as each blue state was announced. Obama's speech and the excitement leading up to it will always be the center of my memory of that night, but my memories are always intertwined with food, and the scent of that comforting soup will always be there too. A bowl of soup and a mix of anxiousness and elation and feeling permanently connected to people I'm just beginning to know.
Election night dinner
Spicy chickpea, sausage, and tomato soup
Spinach salad with parmesan and green apples
Humbolt Fog cheese
Ginger cookies and ice cream
Chickpea, sausage, and tomato soup
Apologies for the blurry photo above, it was snapped with much haste. In reality, this is a very pretty soup, deeply flavored with cumin, jalapeño, and sausage. Caledonia says she clipped this recipe from a copy of Bon Appetit dating back to 1995 and has held onto it since. After tasting it, I agree it's definitely a keeper. Serve with chopped cilantro and avocado. A dollop of sour cream might be nice too.
(Serves 6 to 8 people)
1 tsp. olive oil
3/4 lb. turkey sausage, casings removed, crumbled
8 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup canned diced peeled tomatoes with juices
2 Tbsp. thinly sliced seeded jalapeño
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried
3 15- to 16-oz. cans chickpeas, undrained
2 cups canned chicken broth or beef broth
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, peeled, sliced
Heat olive oil in heavy large Dutch oven (or stock pan) over medium-high heat. Add turkey sausage and chopped garlic and sauté until sausage is golden brown and cooked through, breaking up sausage with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes with their juices, sliced jalapeño chili, ground cumin and chopped fresh rosemary and simmer 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chickpeas with their liquid and chicken broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup 15 minutes. Stir in fresh lemon juice. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.) Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle soup with chopped fresh cilantro and top with sliced avocado. Serve immediately.