Olla Gitana (Gypsy Pot)
Source: slightly adapted from The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen
2 14-oz (400g) cans chickpeas, drained
1 fat carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
8 cups (2 l) rich chicken or vegetable stock
1 lb. (450g) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks
10 oz. (280g) green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) lengths
2 medium slightly underripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) chunks
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
a handful of blanched almonds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (not smoked)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 pinch saffron threads, crumbled
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or more to taste
2 tablespoons slivered fresh mint
Combine the chickpeas, carrots and enough stock to come about 1 1/2 inches above the top in a large heavy pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin, green beans and pears and season with salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the vegetables have softened, about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl, leaving behind as much oil as possible, and set aside. Add the onion to the skillet and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds, add the tomatoes and a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid and cook until the tomatoes soften and reduce, about 7 minutes. Gently stir the tomato mixture and the saffron into the pot with the chickpeas.
Continue cooking until all the vegetables are very soft and the pumpkin is almost falling apart, 5-7 minutes longer, adding more broth if the stew seems too thick. Meanwhile place the fried garlic and almonds in a food processor or coffee grinder and grind until finely ground (you can also use a mortar and pestle). Stir in the vinegar, and add this to the pot with the chickpeas. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper and/or vinegar if necessary. Let the stew cool for about 10 minutes. Garnish with the mint and serve with lots of crusty bread.
Dan's note: good, sweet, kind of summery vegetable soup. I used more paprika and vinegar.