I had the most idiotic moment in the kitchen a few months ago, when I tried to make the chickpea portion of the puréed Chickpea and Kale Soup from the Franny’s cookbook in my InstantPot.
The InstantPot is an electric pressure cooker that’s taken over the nation’s kitchens. Like any pressure cooker, it speeds up time by increasing the pressure inside the cooking environment. Everyone has her InstantPot obsession – the one dish that makes the appliance worth it. For me, it’s beans. Soaked dried beans become evenly soft in 22 minutes, a consistent outcome I have found with no other bean-cooking method.
So, instead of following the Franny’s recipe and simmering the chickpeas on the stovetop for hours I decided to pressure cook them. I put in the 3 1/2 quarts of water the recipe called for, sealed the cooker, set the timer, and went to work sautéing the kale.The seal was the problem. In order to build up steam pressure in an InstantPot, you seal it tight. That means that no water evaporates either. So when these chickpeas were done, I still had 3 1/2 quarts of liquid, as opposed to the quart or two that would have remained had the beans boiled uncovered on the stove.
I didn’t catch my mistake until I had blended all of this liquid with fried garlic and sautéed kale. Instead of the recipe’s creamy, green-speckled bowls of soup, I had quarts upon quarts of watery, green-ish broth. Oops. (It tasted pretty good if you closed your eyes.)
But like the best moments of idiocy, this one led to a flash of understanding. The Franny’s formula for chickpeas includes onions, celery, garlic, and lemon peel. The finished broth tastes delicious–that’s why you can turn it right into soup. The chickpeas are rich and bursting with flavor. The epiphany was that if you cook beans as if you’re making a standalone dish as opposed to a functional staple, your beans and their broth will taste so good that they become good enough to stand alone.
So now I make my chickpeas in my InstantPot as if I were making chicken soup, adding aromatics (and a good pour of olive oil) to the broth. They’re so good that sometimes I eat them straight from the bowl. Other times, I top with a fried egg and crispy breadcrumbs. And of course I use them wherever a recipe calls for chickpeas–like hummus or winter squash & chickpea ribollita.
Do you have an InstantPot? I’d love to know what you make in it!
- 1 pound dried chickpeas
- A little yogurt, lemon juice, or sourdough starter for soaking (optional)
- Olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into a few pieces
- 1 celery stalk, cut into a few pieces
- 1 onion, trimmed and halved
- 2 stalks fennel (cut off from the bulb; I save these in the freezer whenever I made a recipe that calls for fennel), cut into a few pieces
- A few sprigs fresh parsley (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 strips lemon peel
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Put the chickpeas in a big bowl. Cover with a few inches of water and stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, or starter if using. Soak overnight.
- When you’re ready to cook, drain off the soaking water. Put them in the pot of the InstantPot. Add water to cover by 1 inch, then put in the carrot, celery, onion, fennel, parsley, garlic, lemon peel, olive oil, and salt.
- Cover and seal the InstantPot. Use the manual setting and cook for 22 minutes. Turn off the pot and let rest for 20 minutes, then break the seal if the pressure hasn’t come down yet. Taste for salt, adding more as needed. Remove the vegetables. Eat the chickpeas immediately or store them in jars in their broth.