October 13, 2012
Chickpea, tomato and bread soup
Page 218, Ottolenghi
What a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday! My dearest A arrived from California, about 10 of our besties came for a potluck, I made this soup, and we laughed and laughed for hours. Perfection followed by a maraschino cherry birthday cake and total gratitude for the plenty that is another glorious year my life.
It was chilly and forecast to rain, so soup was an obvious solution to wanting to feed 10-15 people with a minimal amount of fuss. This Ottolenghi version of the Tuscan soup ribollita was warm, aromatic (the whole house smelled AMAZING), hearty, and paired well with all of the food that folks brought to share – including a glorious baked brie in the shape of a cat in my honor, homemade brown bread, pumpkin bars, some of my favorite salads, and at least three other kinds of fabulous cheese.
Ottolenghi has taken a seriously hearty soup and given it a lightness with the pesto and basil that top it. Fennel, carrots, onions, and tomatoes are the perfect base for a soup that is comforting to the core. I highly suggest you find that out for yourself this fall.
Chickpea, Tomato and Bread Soup
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled, cut lengthways in half and sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 14 oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp. chopped oregano (or 1 tsp. dried)
- 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- salt and black pepper
- 2 large slices (4 oz) stale sourdough bread ( crust removed)
- 2 1/2 cups chickpeas (freshly cooked or canned which have been rinsed and drained)
- 4 Tbsp. basil pesto
- handful of shredded basil leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 4 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minutes. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.
Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks. Bake for about 10 minutes or until thoroughly dry. Set aside.
About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the back of a spoon; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto into the center and finish with shredded basil if desired.