Chickpea Soup with SausageThe “Chickpea Soup with Sausage,” from Mark Bittman’s blog at The New York Times, enticed me to cook with dried chickpeas. And I wasn’t disappointed! This was an amazingly easy recipe to make. Rather than soaking the chickpeas overnight, I soaked them for four-and-a-half hours. That’s hardly an intimidating task. This was enough time to soften them adequately. My herb of choice was fresh rosemary. My beans were perfectly textured after one hour of simmering.

Rather than transferring half of the soup to a blender to purée, I used my immersion blender right there in the soup pot. A few zaps did the job (I can’t understand why this tool is not recommended by recipes more often). Mark Bittman suggested adding pan-grilled sausage to this soup. I did just that: Applegate Farms organic sweet Italian chicken-turkey sausage. Do drizzle that olive oil on the finished soup at the end — a perfect flourish for this delicious and hearty triumph of a soup. For seasoning, I added 5 tsp. of salt and 1 1/2 tsp. of black pepper.

Boiled Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and FetaWould you like to prepare an easy and flawless potato recipe? Try “Boiled Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and Feta,” from (recipe below).

Boiled Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon, and Feta
Serves 8

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 lbs. baby red potatoes, scrubbed and dried, halved if large
Salt and pepper

Combine 1/4 cup feta, parsley, garlic, zest, juice, and oil in large bowl. Place potatoes in large Dutch oven and add water to cover. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes and add to bowl with cheese mixture. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining feta and serve.

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After boiling for 15 minutes, the “baby red” potatoes will acquire a perfect “pop” when you bite into them. Each element of this recipe serves to enhance the flavor: great lemon strength and feta cheese punch. I added 2 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of black pepper.

RECIPES: delicious, hearty, easy soup that glorifies the chickpea; perfect potatoes
soak your chickpeas early in the day, then cook the soup later for about 90 minutes; 15 minutes for incredible potatoes
a rich, thick soup scented with your herb of choice; tangy feta-garlic-lemon

Next time, I’m ready to have some food fun with “Chicken and Gorgonzola Pizza,” from, along with “Quick ‘Stewed’ Tomatoes,” from the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food. Come back to my site on Thursday, April 17, to see how fun the meal really is.