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Chickpea and Soba Soup

Romaine lettuce is the surprise green in this main-course soup. The rich broth gets its substance from the chickpeas and buckwheat noodles, while the lettuce adds an occasional crunch. If you want something with a little meat, substitute chicken stock for the vegetable broth, and add 1 cup of chopped, cooked chicken with the chickpeas.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup diced tomatoes (about 1/2 of a 14-ounce can)
1 quart vegetable (or chicken) broth
Salt to taste
6 ounces soba noodles (or whole wheat spaghetti)
1/2 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
Optional garnish: 1 avocado, diced

Instructions
1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric and cayenne and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and tomatoes. Add the broth. All to come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the soba noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are brown, about 5 minutes. Add to the soup. Stir in the romaine. If there is not enough liquid to cover the noodles, add 1 to 2 cups water. Cook until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes.  Taste the soup; season with salt if neccesary.

3. To serve, spoon into large bowls and top with the avocado, if using.

Makes 4 servings. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Total time: 25 minutes