Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December 20, 2010: Chickpea, tomato and bread soup

I'd made first use of Cindy's new cookbook Plenty to whip up a salad for Lisa's Christmas potluck, and its success inspired me to go digging for more options. The unseasonal December weather meant that I was up for something hearty and the beautiful picture of this chunky soup in Ottolenghi's book was enough to get me inspired.

The combination of the bread, veggies and chickpeas meant this was almost a stew rather than a liquidy soup. Still, it turned out fantastically well, rich in flavour and filled with chunky chickpeas and deliciously soggy chunks of bread. I think the bread pieces give it a slight illusion of heartiness - we both took what we thought were massive leftovers for lunch the next day and found ourselves needing afternoon tea to get through the day. Regardless, this was a definite success and will probably get another run out when winter rolls around next year.

Chickpea, tomato and bread soup 
(from Ottolenghi's Plenty)

1 large onion, sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup white wine
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 litre vegie stock (we made up some Massel 'beef' stock)
~200g old bread, ripped into chunks
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 tablespoons basil pesto
a few fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

In a large pot, sauté the onion and fennel in 3 tablespoons of the oil for about five minutes. Add the carrot and celery and keep cooking, until the vegies soften a bit (about 5 minutes). Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another minute, before pouring in the wine.

Let the wine bubble for a few minutes and then add in the canned tomatoes, the herbs, sugar, vegie stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss the read chunks with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Lay them out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about 7 minutes - until the bread is completely dry. Take them out and put them aside.

Crush the chickpeas roughly in a bowl, leaving some whole and add them to the soup. Simmer everything for another five minutes and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup up into bowls, dolloping some pesto on top and garnishing with fresh basil.


  1. I've been meaning to make a bread tomato soup ever since I moved out of my allergic-to-wheat-and-tomatoes parents' house, and now you've given me a more complex version to delight in. Thank you!

  2. This soup looks delicious. I will be bookmarking this to try next time we get soup weather come around. With the weather we have had lately that could be very soon too :)