Chickpea, Tomato and Bread Soup

This recipe is from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book ‘Plenty’. If you haven’t seen his documentary series or visited his restaurants in London already, I highly recommend you do – his food is amazing http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients: this soup is incredible, and is a complete meal. If I am having guests, I’ll complete everything up to the part where you add the croutons well ahead of time, and then finish it off once we’re ready to eat. It tastes great heated the next day, if there is any left.

One of my favourite kitchen tools is a Japanese Mandolin – it lets you slice things super thin, and is really fast. I use it for recipes like this where there is a lot of slicing involved

1 large onion, sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
about 120ml olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled, cut lengthwise, and sliced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
250ml white wine
400g plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 litre vegetable stock (I use Moredough or Stock Merchant)

160g stale sourdough bread, crusts removed
400g can chickpeas
4 tablespoons basil pesto (for vegan, I buy Botanical Cuisine’s ‘Basil and Kale’ pesto or make my own – will post the recipe some time)
handful of shredded basil leaves to serve
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Fry the onion and fennel in 3 tablespoons of oil over a medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add carrot and celery, cook for further 4 minutes to soften. Stir in the tomato puree and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a few minutes.

Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices (chop them roughly if whole tomatoes), the herbs, sugar, stock, and salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes.

While this is cooking, tear the sourdough into bite sized pieces, and then mix through with your hands 2 tablespoons of olive oil and freshly gourd salt. Place on a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes until dry and crisp. Set aside.

Drain chickpeas, and squash about 2/3s of them with a masher. Stir into the soup, and simmer for 10 minutes. Next add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Spoon some pesto into the centre, drizzle with a little good olive oil, and top with freshly shredded basil. Enjoy!

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