Hearty Tomato Stew (a farewell to winter)

Since winter has decided to give us an encore performance, I made one last stew to see the cold season on its way.  I love tomato soup and grilled cheese, but tomato soup always leaves me unsatisfied.  If it doesn’t require any chewing, I’m most likely going to feel hungry 20 minutes later.  I call this a stew instead of a soup because if you puree half and leave half chunky, you get a rich, thick, hearty result that “sticks to your ribs” as folks say.  I couldn’t even finish my grilled cheese I felt so full!

I had some chickpeas in the freezer, but you could also use navy, cannellini, or any white bean would be nice.

1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Two 28 oz cans whole plum tomatoes with juice
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked from dried)
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (depending on your taste)
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper
sugar or agave, to taste (optional – see note below)

Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Tear the tomatoes into chunks with your fingers (careful not to squirt yourself in the eye with tomato juice) and add them to the pot.  Or if you’re civilized, you can chop them on a cutting board, but I like to hold them over the pot and tear them so I don’t miss any of the juice and because I like the more rustic chunks than unified pieces for this stew.

Add the leftover juice from the tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and a couple pinches of black pepper.  Cover and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, wash and chop the cilantro.  After the 15 minutes is up, add the cilantro and salt to taste.  At this point, the stew is done.  You can enjoy as is, transfer to a blender (carefully!) and puree the whole thing, or use an immersion blender to puree half (which is my favorite method because you get a slightly creamy, mostly chunky result that doesn’t feel like you’re just drinking hot liquid.)

Note:  If the soup taste a little too acidic to you (this will depend on the tomatoes), add a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or agave at a time until it balances out.  I ended up adding about 1 teaspoon to mine to get it right.

I suggest a Daiya grilled cheese for dunking!

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