I have good news: It is possible to cook with one hand.
Then I bucked up. In fact, the other day I managed to cobble together this rustic chickpea and mushroom soup. I CAREFULLY crushed the garlic cloves by putting them, one at a time, under the flat side of a knife blade and CAREFULLY pressing down with my palm (obviously using my good hand to press and being VERY CAREFUL—even so, as I describe it here it sounds rather reckless, doesn’t it?). I used pre-sliced mushroom caps, and a one-pound container of baby kale leaves I found at the supermarket (no slicing or chopping required). I limited the use of my left hand to occasional support duties as the right hand worked.
I’m happy to say that this soup was as good as any two-handed soup I’ve made. Plus, I didn’t have to do the dishes. My doctor, however, was not thrilled with with my initiative and reminded me that my left hand should be kept elevated at all times and not used to enable the right in any way. In other words, I got a little too ambitious too soon. So, back I go into hibernation for a little while longer. A presto…
Rustic Chickpea and Mushroom Soup with Farro
(Copyright 2012 Domenica Marchetti)
Makes 4 main-course servings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 to 4 large cloves garlic, flattened with the blade of a knife
3 large portobello mushroom caps, thickly sliced
1 pound baby kale leaves or baby spinach leaves
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, plus their liquid (pull-tab can!)
3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 (2-inch) piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
1 1/4 cups farro
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I got my daughter to do this)
Heat 1/4 cup oil and the garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic until it is softened but don’t let it brown. Add the mushrooms and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Cook until they start to become tender, about 10 minutes. Add the baby kale by the handful. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the leaves are completely wilted and tender, 15 to 20 minutes (less if you’re using baby spinach). Pour in the chickpeas and their liquid, and then 3 cups of broth and the parmesan rind. Stir, cover partially and bring to a gentle simmer.
While the soup is cooking, put the farro in a sauce pot along with 3 cups water and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the farro is tender but still pleasantly chewy. Pour the cooked farro (and any remaining cooking water) into the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook at a gentle simmer for a little while longer to thicken the soup and to give the flavors a chance to come together. For a looser soup, add a little more broth.
Ladle into rimmed soup plates and drizzle a little olive oil over each serving. Serve with grated cheese.