chickpea, tomato and bread soup

October 31, 2014 § 77 Comments

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How about this for a hearty soup!  Actually it is more like a stew.  A thick Tuscan stew also known as ribollita.  Ribollita is a traditional hearty Tuscan soup typically using day old bread to add body and thicken the broth.  We used rustic sour dough which added a delightful tart flavor .  The spoonful of basil pesto was a brilliant move only Ottolenghi could dream up.  Yes, this sensational soup is from Yotam Ottolenghi.

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There are many ways to prepare ribollita.  It is simple, earthy and made from whatever vegetables and day old bread is on hand, and is eaten in the fall and winter months.  The word ribollita means “reboiled” and is used to refer to this soup because it requires a bit of cooking to get the right flavor and texture.  Ottolenghi uses fennel and onions for a nice balance of flavor and texture.

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This is the second time I’ve made this stew in the past few weeks.   It’s heavenly and we love it.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled & cut lengthways in half and sliced
  • 3 celery sticks, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 28 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups stale sourdough bread, crust removed
  • 15 ounce can chickpeas

P e s t o    I n g r e d i e n t s

  • handful basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 heaping tablespoons parmesan
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pecans
  • a little salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Place the onion and fennel in a large soup pot, add 3 tablespoons of the oil and sauté on a 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 minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two.

Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the herbs, sugar, vegetable stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover and leave to simmer gently for a good 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, tear the bread into rough chunks and toss with 2 tablespoons oil, some salt and scatter in a roasting pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until thoroughly dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Prepare the basil pesto.  Place a small handful of basil leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, two heaping tablespoons parmesan, two tablespoons pecans, one peeled garlic clove, and salt in a food processor and whizz until blended.

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 end of a rolling pin; you want some to be left whole. Add them to the soup and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the toasted bread, stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper liberally.
Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Spoon pesto in the centre, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and finish with a generous amount of freshly shredded basil, if you like.

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