Smokey Rolls Down Chickpea Mountatin

 When my boyfriend and I first became vegetarian, we could count on one hand how many dishes were in our repertoire. It included, chili, sti...

 When my boyfriend and I first became vegetarian, we could count on one hand how many dishes were in our repertoire. It included, chili, stir-fries, spaghetti, pesto, and tomato soup. Now a days, I do pretty much all the cooking, and have expanded my horizons to include all the things on this blog and beyond. He, on the other hand.. can't even make spaghetti anymore.
Tomato soup was our old standby. A great dish to make for 2 or a crowd, we would make this at least every 2 weeks. Obviously now, since my culinary horizons have expanded, I make a lot of other things instead of the same 5 things over and over. But I found myself making tomato soup tonight for the first time in years.

I mean, I can't just make plain old tomato soup, the way I used to. I've got to mix things up when I'm re-doing them. I was heavily influenced by the weather, which, right now can't decide what season it's going to be. It's very warm when the sun comes out, but the sun isn't really coming out that much. So it's actually still pretty goddamn cold. I craved a little smokiness, the type of cooking warm weather tends to bring with it. I also craved soup. I crave soup when it is freezing. Most people do that, right?
And so this soup was born with some crispy chickpeas in its mouth. Or on it's head. Okay I'm done personifying the soup. It's hot and smokey, but still creamy and comforting. It's in-between-seasonal. Some crispy chickpeas never hurt any soup either.

Smokey tomato soup with chickpea croutons

1 28 oz can tomatoes
2 cups red cherry tomatoes or 5 ripe tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large red onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
4-5 ribs celery, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, more to taste
1 teaspoon seasoning salt of your choice, i chose adobo, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup cashews
3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/4 cup nooch
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1 tablespoon soy sauce,
2-3 tablespoons canola oil

Preheat the broiler.
In a cast-iron skillet, arrange the cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes work best because they blacken quickly, evenly and easily. If you only have large tomatoes, cut them in quarters and arrange the wedges in the pan. Put pan under the broiler for 7-8 minutes. Turn tomatoes to evenly blacken, and return to broiler for 3-4 more minutes. Remove and let cool.
Meanwhile, preheat a large soup pot over medium high heat with the teaspoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, and let them soften and lightly brown, about 5 more minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook about 3 minutes until veggies are soft and turning brown. If dark brown spots are forming on the surface of the pan, pour some water in there, about 1/4 cup to "deglaze" it. While you pour it in, take your wooden spoon or stick or spatula or joy stick or whatever you're stirring with and scrape the brown bits off the bottom. Add the garlic and stir around the middle of the pan for 30 seconds or so, until you can smell the garlic. Now add the dried herbs, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red chili flakes, seasoning salt, ground cumin, salt and pepper and stir. Toast the spices and veggies about 1 minute, then add canned tomatoes and fire roasted cherry tomatoes. Stir and smush up the tomatoes in the soup. Add liquid smoke and veggie broth. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a blender, combine cashews, nooch and soy milk. Blend until a creamy sauce is achieved, and cashews are totally blended up with no graininess whatsoever. This step is optional, and for a lower fat soup, leave it out. The creamy sauce makes this soup very luxurious, reminiscent of a restaurant-style creamy tomato soup. Anyways, pour your creamy sauce into the soup pot and stir well. Taste for flavors. I like the textures of a little something chunky in my soup, but if you prefer a perfectly smooth soup, blend it up in your blender. If you can't decide, blend half of it and mix it back in with the chunky half.
To make the crispy chickpeas, Pour canola oil into a cast-iron skillet. Heat over medium-high. Stir together the drained chickpeas, soy sauce, chili powder and hot smoked paprika. Once oil is hot, pour in the spiced chickpeas and stir until lightly charred and crispy, 6-7 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving soup. Top soup with a handful of crispy chickpeas and some fresh chopped parsley.

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