Agua Faba…Let me Educate You!

Have you ever heard of aqua faba? Means bean water and that is what it is; the water in a can of cooked chick pea beans. Aqua faba is used for making vegan whipped cream, no lie! It is pretty simple; drain the water from a can of chickpeas; only they are recommended; other beans make a poor substitute and have a very pronounced beany flavor. Put the liquid (should be ¾ cup from one can of chick peas) into a stand mixer bowl. Beat until foamy, add ¼ tsp cream of tarter which helps form a sturdy structure and beat for 9 or 10 minutes. In the last minute add 1 to 3 tsp vanilla extract and then 1/3 to 2/3 cup powdered sugar. Use immediately.  Here is the site for more information: https://www.allrecipes.com/article/aquafaba/. I think the chocolate mousse sounds especially promising. It is rather similar to my mousse recipe other than it lacks the strong coffee and booze I add!

I looked into aqua faba whipped cream as my goddaughter was visiting and she is a vegan; I wanted to make a parfait for dessert and we got to talking about this interesting stuff. Neither of us ever made it but we were game to try it. We followed the recipe fairly closely. It looked a lot like whipped egg whites. I found it rather insipid but I am betting that if you make the chocolate mousse the chocolate will disguise the less than exciting flavor of this vegan fluff. Plus, I was out of vanilla so we made it almond flavored and skimped on that and the sugar. Maybe it needs more sweetness and a lot of vanilla to taste the best…. Let me know if  you try it; curious what you think.

Chickpea Pastina Soup for Supper

Another week, another storm, another hearty soup! This storm I made a chickpea and pasta soup.  It is simple yet filling and savory.  The seasonings are simple, relying on the chickpeas for the predominant flavor. I used up some potato water leftover from mashed potatoes the night before, adding an extra layer of flavor.  I have made this soup many times, in several variations.  This version is my favorite.

It is naturally gluten free, just be careful about the chicken broth you use; most are not safe for celiacs. I really like Kitchen Basics, safe and great flavor.  For my pasta I chose Shar anellini which are tiny rings, about of the size of jewelry jump rings. I suppose you could make it with canned  chickpeas but I would not recommend that; the time you spend cooking up the beans is worth it for their flavor and firmer texture are very important to the success of this winter soup.

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What’s left in the pot after I have a bowl for supper!

Tuscan ChickPea and Pasta Soup

1 ½ cups dried chickpeas

6-7 cups liquid: water, chicken broth, potato water, a mixture is okay

¼ cup EVOL (extra virgin olive oil)

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1 large carrot, chopped small

1 ½ celery stalk, chopped small

2 garlic cloves minced

1 ½ tbsp. tomato paste mixed with ¾ cup chicken broth

Salt/pepper to taste

1/3 cup pasta; anellini work well

Directions:

Put the chickpeas in a big sauce pan, cover them with water, bring to a boil, cook 2 minutes, turn off and cover.  Let sit 60 minutes.  Drain and rinse them well.  Clean out the pot, put the beans in and cover with broth or water.  Cook 1.5 to 2 hours until tender.  Stir occasionally, add water as needed and taste – I like them done but al dente; still a touch firm.

In a large heavy bottomed soup pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the onion, cook 1 minute, add the carrot and celery bits, cook 4 minutes, add the garlic, saute one more minute. Add the broth/paste mixture.  Stir well.  Cover and cook 15-20 minutes adding more water or broth if it seems low.  It is not that brothy of a mixture.  Add 1 tsp. or more of sea salt, a few grinds of fresh black pepper and the pasta; cook the length of time the package says.  Turn off and let rest a few minutes before serving it.  Be sure to taste the soup and adjust the seasoning.  I often have to add more water or broth so it has the consistency I want for serving.

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It’s perfect on a cold winter evening with a slice of gf bread or some biscuits and a green salad.

This is an adaptation from a recipe out of a favorite cookbook “Italy Al Dente” by Biba Caggiano.  I changed some ingredients and revised the proportions a touch.