Nothing is as comforting on a chilly day as a good and hearty soup. The following recipe is one of my favorites. Use the best Kielbasa and ham you can find, and don’t be tempted to use canned garbanzo beans because the rich flavor will not come through.
½ cup olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 large green peppers
5 large garlic cloves
1 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes, cut into large pieces
1 lb. red potatoes, quartered
1 whole, good-quality Polish Kielbasa sausage cut into 1/8” slices, (unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to get your hands on real Spanish chorizo)
1/3 lb. good quality smoked ham, coarsely chopped
1 lb. dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) soaked overnight
6 cups water
3-5 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
Place the garbanzos in a large soup pot, cover with plenty of cold water, and allow to soak overnight.
Next day, drain the soaking water. Rinse and drain again, then and add the 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until the beans are tender. Add more boiling water if necessary to keep the beans well covered. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and make a sofrito with the first 4 ingredients. Add the tomatoes when the vegetables have cooked and the onions are caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, cook the sausage in a small amount of olive oil until browned. Drain about half the fat and reserve the other half to add flavor to the potaje. Add the potatoes, sofrito, sausage, ham, bay leaves, salt and pepper, and the reserved cooking water to the garbanzos in the soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 45 – 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened slightly.
Ladle into soul bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley and extra virgin olive oil if desired. Serve with hot, crusty bread.