Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Italian Chickpea and Zucchini Soup in a Tomato Base

I am feeling much better since I forced myself to do a little exercise. A couple of slow miles, some pilates, yoga and abdominal work and I am almost feeling human again. With this new found energy I decided to get myself into the kitchen and make some food.

Having soup in the refrigerator earlier this week made it easy to grab lunch for me and pack lunch for Dan. I had forgotten how nice it was to have on hand so I decided to make another batch for Thursday and Friday’s lunch. After contemplating mushroom or bean I opted for a bean based soup. Here is what I made:

Italian Chickpea and Zucchini Soup in a Tomato Base
Makes 6 servings of about 2 cups each


1 cup chickpeas, dried
4 cups of water for soaking
6 cups water for cooking (assumes you are simmering the beans in a covered pot which allows less of the water to evaporate)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
1 red onion, peeled and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
2 bay leaves
1 carrot, finely diced
28 ounces diced tomatoes (or the equivalent in fresh peeled diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 zucchini, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

For serving: either cashew crème fraiche, walnut parmesan or fresh minced parsley and balsamic or wine vinegar


Soak the chickpeas for at least 4 hours, 8 is better. Then rinse the beans and cover with the cooking water, add the garlic, onion and bay leaves and simmer until the beans are tender. You don’t want to add the tomatoes until the beans are tender as the acidity will keep the beans from getting tender. The same thing is true of salt. Only add that after the beans are tender, assuming you are using salt that is. ;-)

Once the beans are tender add the remaining ingredients and cook for another 15 minutes. Then store in a covered container until you are ready to eat.   Like all soup this will be better tomorrow after the flavors marry.

To serve, top with cashew crème, walnut parmesan or some fresh minced parsley. If desired you can serve on top of cooked pastina (small soup pasta), brown rice, quinoa or millet. The grains will change the texture and make this more like a stew than a soup. If you need extra calories adding the grain makes sense. I like the make certain that we have a little fat with our meals so that we efficiently absorb our fat soluble vitamins. In addition the cashew crème and walnut parmesan tastes good on top of soup and it look pretty. ;-) I also like to finish my soup with a little acidity to brighten the flavors. Today I used a drizzle of balsamic on my lunch serving but you can also use wine vinegar or lemon juice. That little bit of acid makes a big difference in flavor.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 171.8
Calories From Fat (12%) - 21.08

Total Fat - 2.52g
Saturated Fat - 0.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 57.37mg
Potassium - 786mg
Total Carbohydrates - 31.32g
Fiber - 8.89g
Sugar - 8.64g
Protein - 8.69g


This is a simple soup that I have made for years. In the past I would have added small soup pasta to this dish. However soup pasta is hard to find in whole wheat and isn’t much better for you even if you can find it. Brown rice and quinoa work well as substitutes. I cook the grains separately and add them to the portion of soup that we will be eating. That method keeps the grain from overcooking or making the soup too thick.

Happy Birthday to my shy friend:

A very close friend of mine has decided to treat themselves more kindly and eat more produce and eliminate processed foods. Can you imagine how thrilled I was to hear this? I was doing the happy dance when I got the phone call. I promised my friend I would not out them publicly on the blog, though I am dying too, LOL. Since this person is buying themselves a Vitamix for their birthday this week you know I have to jump on the health bandwagon. I can’t share what I have bought my friend for their b’day (because they read my blog) but I took pictures of everything before I wrapped it so I could tell you all about it. Let’s hope my friend is half as excited about this stuff as I am. I had the best time shopping for the b’day present this year. Normally I agonize and don’t know what to get, but not this year. Since I know my friend is reading, don’t worry it isn’t bad I am 90% sure you will like it all. It will remind you of my healthy theme from this past winter holiday gift giving season though. ;-)  But I know you will accept it for what it is, a sign my affection.  I am so thrilled that you are focusing on health you have no idea, this is the best present you could have given me.


If any of you have or have worked out on a TRX I would love to hear your thoughts on it. This has been on my list of possible gym acquisitions for about a year. What do you think, is it a good workout and intuitive to use? Any input on this is great appreciated.

What are you thankful for today?:

Do you ever have one of those weeks where things just don’t seem to go right and you find yourself wanting a “do over”? That describes my week so far. How can it only be Wednesday? *sigh* When I have these sort of weeks I push myself to write at least 10 things that I am thankful for to remind myself how great my life really is. Somehow the act of writing these things down allows me to focus on what is good in my life. I thought I would share my list with all of you in the hope that you will think about what is good in your life when you are having a bad week. Here goes:

1. I am married to my best friend.

2. I love my husband more now than I did decades ago when we met which I did not think was possible.

3. I can’t imagine a marriage happier than mine. It is so nice to know my husband knows all my faults and still adores me. I am a very lucky girl.

4. My other best friend Louis is like the brother I never had. Please know how much I appreciate and love you. You have always been there when I really needed you. Thank you for holding me together. Who else would have taken time off of work to go shopping with me during the surgery so I didn’t pace and obsess? ;-)

5. We have a comfortable life that gives us one less thing to stress about.

6. I am able to care for my family (Dan and the fur children) and parents rather than leaving that to others.

7. Being home allows me to concentrate on keeping my family healthy by studying nutrition and reading medical and scholarly journals. I can’t tell you how much of a difference that has made in our lives.

8. I have a husband that puts up with my “nutrition nazi” ways (as he calls them) and still eats what I give him and doesn’t complain (well not seriously). I am thankful that he trusts me enough to go with what I think is best for our health. Thank you sweetie.  I love you!

9. I wake up every morning next to the person that means more to me than anything else in the world. Every day I get to spend with Dan is a great one.

10. Our felines are very loving and bring us happiness every day, though they are a little spoiled. We both adore those bad little cats.

Okay your turn. Can you name at least one thing that you are truly thankful for in your life? I know it seems a bit corny but focusing on the good things seems to have a calming effect and focuses my attention on what is right rather than looking for the negatives in life. We have all things we would rather change but in the end the big stuff matters so much more.

Weight Watchers Commercial Rant:

Am I the only one that is tired of the commercial with Jennifer Hudson? What sort of signal is it to young girls when she says, “it makes me love myself that much more” regarding her weight loss? Really? And to think we wonder why so many young girls have eating disorders. *argh* The message behind that commercial really irritates me. Okay, rant over now.

If I am going to get my mushroom pate finished before Dan gets home I need to get into the kitchen. Talk to you all again soon. With a little luck I will have time to write up the mushroom pate tonight. I hope everyone is having a good Wednesday.


  1. I'm so glad you're feeling better and hope you sleep well tonight. The soup looks great and I'll try it soon.

    I can't wait to hear about your birthday gift(s) and can understand why you're so happy that your friend's going to be eating better. I always like to hear that the loved ones in my life are taking care of themselves.

    I'm very thankful for a strong and healthy body and mind (despite what I've done to it in the past LOL). And I'm so lucky to have loving family members and friends to care about. As my yoga instructor likes to say, "May I be blessed ... and may I BE a blessing".

  2. Ali, this has been a tough week here too. :(

    My husband started a new job. This is his first week, and the hours this week are terrible. :(
    It won't remain this way thank goodness!

    I too am thankful for my husband.
    On the 10th of August we will have been married 26 years. :)

    Hopefully next week will be better for us both. I am exhausted.

  3. Laura,

    Thanks, doing a little bit of exercise made a big difference. But I am slowing down again.

    I can't wait to tell you about the gifts. I had the most fun shopping for them. You nailed why I was so happy to hear the news.

    I love your yoga instructors saying. Thank you so much for sharing that.


  4. Naina,

    I am so sorry to hear about your rough week. Sounds like there is something in the air. I hope next week is better.

    Congratulations on your anniversary. Wow, 26 years is a long time together. Dan and I are in our 23rd year together.


  5. That soup looks perfect. Most definitely something I'd make and enjoy. Glad you're feeling better and found some energy. I am thankful that I have AC (trivial I know but it's 110 degrees). I am most definitely thankful for my job, for my family, my husband, for the opportunity to attend the Road Trip.

  6. Heather,

    In your heat I would be thankful for AC too. ;-) Our heat index is only in the upper 90's today but I haven't left the AC.

    Your thankful list made me smile. I must be thinking of all the fun you had on your road trip.


  7. I know how excited you are about your friend's change of heart--I hope he is touched by how much you care for him!

    Every day I am thankful for my loving friends and family. I am very fortunate to have each and every one of them in my lives, and often take it for granted.


  8. Courtney,

    My friend knows how much I care. I tend to be quite demonstrative. LOL

    I think we all take people and things for granted. It helps me to write down what I am thankful for everyday. I keep an Word file by day and reveiw it when I need cheerig up. It is hard to be down when you reread all the things you have to be thankful for everyday. Today I was very thankful that exercise made me feel so much better. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  9. I am thankful that I was able to spend 7 months living in Hawaii with V., my partner and best friend. Also thankful for this new vegan food blog community! The b-day sounds great, as does the Italian chick pea soup. I, too had a chickpea dish for lunch (Indian-style) which I will share later:)))

  10. Aimee,

    I would be thankful for 7 months in Hawaii too. :-) It is wonderful to have your partner and best friend be the same person. I am very happy for you.

    Can't wait to see your chickpea dish.

    hope you are having a good evening,

  11. nutrition nazi..i love thatlol

    i have been in ca for a few days,short notice but thats why i havent ben around.missed your posts thought and this one was extra nice:). im trying to guess who the bday girl is...hmmm

  12. Michelle,

    Oh no, a visit to CA on short notice doesn't sound good. I hope everything is okay. Hugs!

    Dan has called me the nutrition nazi for years. It comes from my saying things like, "Do you know what is in that?" and then telling him why it is bad for him. The funny thing is he gave me the nickname before we went vegan. Hmmmmm, I wonder what he really wants to call me now. LOL

    talk to you later,

  13. Re your TRX query:

    The fitness studio I go to here in Philadelphia has us use TRX as part of our strength training. It's a fantastic piece of equipment. You can use it to work out every muscle in your body. It's great for developing balance, core stability and functional strength. And it affords the opportunity to add so much variety to a home workout. If I were equipping for home workouts, it would probably be the first thing I'd buy.

    And thank you for the gratitude exercise. Long and sleepless couple of weeks around these parts due to some (entirely temporary) medical issues so this is going to help me get to the end of the day with a sunnier attitude. I am grateful for:

    1. My sweet, funny and eternally joyful 3-year-old son -- more precious than I could ever have imagined.

    2. Said son's idea of a good time being riding his tricycle around a gorgeous public square and then onwards to the sushi bar for onigiri and miso soup. If it involved blue sugar and a purple dinosaur on the telly, I would have to overmedicate.

    3. My husband -- 14 years together come August 23.

    4. Having, at age 23 when I was in the habit of making monumentally bad decisions and getting just about everything wrong, got it right when I met the future husband and decided that he was the one. Really, it's a miracle that he didn't turn out to be the human equivalent of butt-baring denim cut-offs with fishnet tights and cowboy boots.

    5. The opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. Best job ever!

  14. Heather,

    Thanks so much for the input on the TRX. I only have one male friend that used it in a gym in San Fran and raved. It is very helpful to get a women's point of view. It looks like a great piece of equipment.

    Sorry to hear about your rough time but glad it is temporary.

    Happy anniversary!

    I love that your three year old like onigiri and miso soup. Great job mom!

    I love your description of what a bad decision could have been. Too funny! LOL! It is amazing that we all survived our youth isn't it?


  15. Hi,
    Another guys point of view but the TRX is great! A very good workout. It takes no space when I am not using it. Mine came with one workout DVD. I have since purchased the flexibility DVD (which is great) and a couple others.

    Thanks for your blog, the recipes are Great.

  16. Gordon,

    Thanks so much for your input on the TRX I really appreciate it. I am glad you mentioned DVDs I was hoping there were at least a few available.

    thanks also for your kind words about the blog,


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