The Recipe

Spanish Garbanzo Stew
Potaje con acelgas y garbanzos

As Carmen Studley from Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain, taught Lindsay Sterling in Scarborough, ME, November 2014

Note: Consider freezing portions -- you'll love yourself later for having this great meal already prepared.

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 1 hour plus soaking beans over night

16 oz dried garbanzo beans
1-2 bunches green chard
1/3 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic
2 slices of sandwich bread or equivalent amount of another kind of bread
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet Spanish paprika, called pimenton dulce 
3 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tsp salt
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 loaf fresh french bread

In a large bowl cover garbanzos with water 3 inches deep over the top of the beans. Soak over night on the counter or longer in the fridge.

Strain garbanzo beans and put into a large pot. Cover beans by 1 inch of water, and heat on high.

While the beans are cooking, take off the stringy parts of the chard stems. Take one stem, bottom facing up, curved part of the stem towards you. Slice across the bottom of the stem toward you with a paring knife. Just before you slice through the end completely, pull toward you and down over the back of the stem so that you pull the outer stringy layer off the stem. Repeat on all sides of the stem until there are no strings left. Discard the stringy parts. Over a colander in the sink cut across the stem every two inches so pieces of stem, and pieces of stem with leaf attached fall into the colander. Continue, filling a colander with the prepped chard pieces. Rinse chard in the colander. Submerge the chard in the water with the beans. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn heat down to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes.

While that's cooking, slice the garlic into 1/8th inch thin slices and fry in oil in a medium saute pan on medium heat. When the garlic is golden, remove garlic and place it in a mortar and pestle. Fry bread pieces in the oil left in the pan until they've become toasty. Add the bread to the mortar and pestle. Add to the mortar, 1 1/2 Tbsp paprika and 1 1/2 tsp cumin and mash the contents into a paste, adding about 1/2 cup water to loosen. Paste should be uniform and without chunks when you're done.

When the garbanzo's are almost cooked, but they don't yet have cracked skin, strain them and the chard in a colander. Put them back in the large pot with the garlic-bread paste, 5 1/2 cups hot water (or enough to be level with the food), and 1 chicken bouillon cube. Cook another 15 minutes or so until garbanzo skins crack. To prevent garbanzos from turning mushy, don't use a spoon to stir this, but twist the pot quickly so the contents mix without bumping around too much.

Season with salt to taste. Serve with bread for dipping.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2014