Chickpea and Potato Mulligatawny Soup


I slept fitfully last night, and woke this morning with a lot on my mind--overdue work tasks, mounds of laundry, all the recent violence in our country and city. Every time I turn around, there's news of another shooting or violent crime.  This doesn't make me scared, necessarily--like I always say, stepping out the door each morning is an act of faith--but it makes me sad.  The Fort Hood tragedy touches me on so many levels, especially since I've always been interested in Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Secondary Traumatic Stress that caregivers (like Major Hasan) experience.  These wars are leaving deep, destructive ruts in the lives of American families--servicemen and women coming home traumatized, suicide rates skyrocketing, and most Americans not knowing how to recognize or acknowledge this.  I don't have an answer, but I'm just sad.  I love my little kitchen and the meals around our table, but I've been so aware lately of our larger context.  Now, more than ever, we need to be taking care of each other.

Today, that meant making dinner for my friends Tiffany and Chris who just had a baby girl.  I always marvel at these juxtapositions--sweet, new life against so much loss.  I love taking dinner to new moms.  With both my babies, I remember feeling so completely grateful for those folks that showed up on my door with dinner in a bag.  Every time, it was hard for me to accept, but I helplessly needed them.  My friend Sarah says that mutual dependence is the only way to intimacy.  Having children teaches me that every day--I need Mary, I need my hardworking spouse, I need my mothers' group and friends, and they need me.  There's no way around it.

Since I seem to do dinner deliveries on a semi-regular basis, I have some rules for myself.  They have to be easy, things I would normally make, and dessert is optional.  This morning I got out of bed at 6:45 and had to have soup made by 8:00.  I knew potatoes and onions would be involved since I just bought a whole box from the organic farm my friend Dana works on.  Beyond that, I wasn't sure.  Scrounging Time.

bainbridge potatoes

Onions, garlic, ginger with curry powder.  Then potatoes and apples, chickpeas, coconut milk.  According to Wikipedia, mulligatawny means "pepper water" and is a "curry-flavored soup of Anglo-Indian origin."  My mom made a version growing up, and past versions of mine have included lentils, carrots, yams.  Today's was dictated by a coming-home-from-vacation pantry, and it was delicious.  I had it for lunch while the kids were eating Top Ramen, and topped mine with apple, chiles, and a dollop of yogurt.

Turning in tonight after a long day, I'm glad babies are still being born into this crazy world.  If all else fails, maybe this photo of Loretta will bring world peace.  (My predominant gift is being able to link anything to food and photos of my children.)


Chickpea and Potato Mulligatawny Soup
If you're a meat person, you can put shredded chicken in here, but I don't think it needs it.  And if you have some lentils around, you can cook and use them instead of chickpeas.  As I intone about about every soup, salt it until it tastes right!  There's nothing (or hardly anything) less satisfying than a not-salty-enough soup.

3 Tb. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2" knob of fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 Tb. curry powder, mild or spicy
4 medium potatoes with skin, washed and diced
1 crisp apple, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice
1/2 c. basmati rice
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans
1 15 oz. can occonut milk
juice of one lime
1/4 c. brown sugar
Optional garnishes:  cilantro, fresh chiles, toasted coconut, diced apple, plain yogurt, green onions

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot.  Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add curry powder, salt, potatoes, apples, rice and garbanzo beans to onion mixture, stir until coated, then add enough water to cover everything by an inch.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, until rice and potatoes are tender.

Add coconut milk, lime juice, and brown sugar, and cook on low heat for 10 more minutes--don't bring it to a rapid boil since coconut milk can curdle.  Add more salt to taste and top with any combination of condiments.