Recipe: Chickpea and Kale Stew

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When the weather gets blustery cold and miserable, I turn to hearty stews to keep me warm throughout the day. Well, that and boots, scarves, sweaters, hot chocolate and hand warmers like this and this.

The thing I love most about this one pot, plant based meal, is that it keeps me warm for hours, thanks to the tahini and cayenne.

Tahini, or sesame paste, is like peanut butter but with sesame seeds. It's extremely high in minerals, so helps to nourish the blood. It also adds a beautiful creaminess to this stew, making feel like a cream based soup, but without the cream. And of course, adding a pinch of cayenne pepper increases circulation, keeping you extra warm after eating it.

I love, love, love this stew with freshly cooked chickpeas (or ones I cooked a week ago and stored in the freezer for a busy weeknight dinner), but canned are just fine. As for other substitutions - any hearty green would work in place of the kale, and if you're trying to save a few pennies, you can sub sliced almonds for the pine nuts.

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Chickpea and kale Stew

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 lb. small red potatoes, diced
3-4 c. water or broth
1 bunch kale
2 cups chickpeas/garbanzo beans
2 T. tahini
toasted pine nuts and chopped basil for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and sauté until translucent, a few minutes. Stir in the garlic, salt and spices. Tip in the potatoes, and give the whole thing a good stir to coat them in the spiced oil.

After you've let that cook for a few minutes, add enough broth or water to totally cover the potatoes, and a little extra for good measure. Cover, bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer. After 10 minutes or so add in the kale. Cover again and continue to simmer until the potatoes are almost done, probably another 10 minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas. Scoop out some of the warm spicy broth with a cup and dissolve the tahini into it. Mix that back into the pot of soup. Once the tahini's in there, be cautious with the heat, but very slightly simmer until the potatoes are done and everything is hot. Taste and add extra salt if needed.

Serve with the pine nuts and basil on top.

Serves 4-6