I must have had a sixth sense that the excesses and over-indulgences of Thanksgiving would leave me wanting something light, clean, and fresh. Up until a couple of years ago, I was living on the East Coast and our family tradition was going out to a particular restaurant every Thanksgiving. No cooking, no clean-up, no leftovers. That last part may strike some of you as tragic and I’ll admit there were times I wish I had pilfered a plate of desserts or absconded with a heap of mashed potatoes so that I could take part in the apres-Thanksgiving tradition of eating leftovers for days on end. But for the most part, I was happy not to have to relive the gluttonous riches of Thanksgiving dinner well into the next week.
Not so much this year. You may recall the 40 pounds of meat for five people. You may recall the delightful, cheesy strata, intended to serve 10 as a main course or 16 as a side. And I didn’t even mention the mashed potatoes, roasted turnips, cranberry sauce, or pies. There’s only so much of those sorts of foods you can take (pie aside, naturally) before your body starts to scream out for something light and healthy.
As it happens, I had made a big batch of garbanzo bean soup with saffron just a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Originally from the December 2001 issue of Bon Appetit (but found here on Epicurious), this soup is the perfect antidote to holiday excess. Laden with sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, tomatoes, and, of course, garbanzo beans, it’s light, but decidedly autumnal. The hints of saffron, cinnamon, and cumin make it just a little more interesting than your average vegetable soup and in my mind, evoked the flavors of Morocco. I won’t go as far as to say that it made me forget about the pie leftovers in the fridge, but it was a welcome change from the over-indulgences of Thanksgiving.
Garbanzo bean soup with saffron (serves 6)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
5 cups canned vegetable broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
5 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 15- to 16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add saffron; stir 1 minute.
2. Add 5 cups broth and next 5 ingredients; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Stir in garbanzo beans. Simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.