Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Sourdough

This soup is the evening equivalent of my morning mug of earl grey tea.  Peter can tell you how grumpy I get when we are either 1) out of black tea or 2) out of milk (to put in said tea).  It’s not pretty.  A similar thing happened this week with the chickpea and tomato soup with sourdough.  First we were out of sourdough bread (this one’s on Peter) and then we were out of oregano (this one’s on me).  And I stubbornly refused to make the soup any other way.

In the last few weeks there have been plenty of chickpea soup versions, but I realize now that the only truly key ingredients are as follows: chickpeas, tomatoes, sourdough bread, good broth, oregano, onion-family vegetable, root-family vegetable.  Not once have I had all the ingredients called for in the original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty, but who cares when I’m willing to make a soup that takes two days?  Now don’t panic, the only thing that takes an extra day is cooking the chickpeas, but if you use chickpeas from a can then the whole thing takes under an hour.  Closer to half an hour if you don’t get distracted by cute animal photos (can’t. help. myself.).

Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Sourdough
1-2 cups dried chickpeas (or two small cans of cooked chickpeas)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil for the pot
1-2 medium onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 large can of crushed tomatoes
4 or more cups of good broth (I use homemade chicken broth)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Sourdough bread cubes, stale or fresh, as long as it was good to begin with

Your first thought may be that the previous list of ingredients was rather inexact, but this is because you will most likely not have the exact quantities lying around or have soup preferences of your own.  For example, I get picky about the amount of chickpeas compared to other ingredients–it doesn’t make sense, but there you go.

 To cook the chickpeas:

Soak the chickpeas for 4-8 hours (or overnight) covered with water to at least two inches above the top of the beans.  I have started soaking my beans in the fridge so I don’t have to worry about forgetting about them.  The beans will expand quite a bit during this soaking period.  Then, rinse the beans and cover with new water in a pot, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are nice and soft.  It is rather difficult to overcook chickpeas, so I often don’t keep a very close eye on them.

To make the soup:

In a soup pot, saute the onion in the olive oil until softened a bit.  Add the carrots and celery and cook until they are slightly soft too.  Add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar, cooked chickpeas, and broth.  You will probably also want to add some water to make the soup of a soupy consistency.  I like this soup closer to stew-like, but remember that the sourdough will absorb some liquid at the end.  Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or so.  Either while serving or during the last few minutes of cooking, add the sourdough bread cubes and mix them into the soup.

Optional garnishes: drizzle of olive oil, dollop of yogurt or sour cream, minced green onions or chives.



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