Apologies for a lack of posts. I've been preparing for, and currently recovering from, a stint in hospital. This is the first time in a few days I've made it down the stairs to check emails etc. and I think that's been quite enough activity for the day. Time for another nap!
But before that, here's my latest passion. I think I'm seriously in love with this soup. It's become a bit of an obsession. In the space of 2 weeks I made two batches and took it to work for lunch EVERY DAY, as well as having it for dinner some nights. I think it was a comment I made about chickpeas a few weeks ago, and a suggestion to try some chickpea recipes in Nigella's How To Eat that led me to the discovery of Anna del Conte's recipe for chickpea and pasta soup that Nigella included. But, in commendable lazy-Niki style I disregarded virtually all instructions on how to make it and just went my own way, so I can hardly claim it as Anna del Conte's recipe. However, if my short-cut version is so magnificent I can hardly imagine how good the "real" recipe would taste.
The "real" recipe instructs me to soak chickpeas overnight in a bicarbonate of soda paste, and then to boil them up for a few hours. Hmmm, yeah.....I wanted soup now, not tomorrow, so I used a few tins instead. The "real" recipe instructed me to contain the sprigs of rosemary and garlic inside a trouser sock (ewwww...a new one, I would hope), so you could fish them out afterwards so the rosemary needles wouldn't swim around the soup and turn bitter, but I seriously couldn't be bothered wasting a trouser sock and anyway, I only own black ones, and was not keen to replicate at Bridget Jones-like escapade in the kitchen. So I just chucked in whole garlic cloves and branches of rosemary. I actually quite like the taste of individual rosemary needles swimming around my soup, and sweetly softened garlic cloves are always a good thing.
I can't even remember now what other alterations I made, but I think this soup is a good example of taking a flavour idea and running with it. I managed to restrain myself from adding too many ingredients, as I can often do when faced with a short list of flavours. I always think the flavour won't be strong or punchy enough if there's not many ingredients. This was a problem my father had as well, so evidently it must be genetic.
However, this time I kept to what Nigella/Anna suggested and I was amazed. Who would have thought that a simple soup of stock, chickpeas, garlic, rosemary and tinned tomatoes could be so incredibly mind-blowing? It really is. It's full of flavour, the rosemary gives a great, unusual edge to the flavour and the chickpeas make it filling. However, my favourite part was the fact the noodles, after their lengthy stewing in the liquid turned slippery and silky and perfectly slurpy. Despite my Italian blood, I've never been one for al dente pasta. My Northern Italian grandparents are the same; we all prefer our pasta softer, so this soup catered perfectly to my needs! And sitting here, in my dressing gown, feeling woozy and ready for another nap, it's the type of thing I wish I had waiting for me on the stove.
Read on for the recipe:
Chickpea & pasta soup
Loosely based on Anna del Conte's recipe, found in Nigella's 'How To Eat'
2 tins of chickpeas (or 1 tin plus 1 tin of cannellini beans)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
400g tinned tomatoes
120 ml olive oil
3 litres of stock (vegetable, chicken, white wine & water or a mix of any of them)
270g small tubular pasta, such as spirals or ditalini
parmesan for grating over
chilli oil and flatleaf parsley, if you like
Empty the chickpeas/beans into a large pot with their liquid. Add 1/2 the olive oil, the garlic cloves and rosemary and cook for a few minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock/liquid/wine/water.
Once it coems to the boil, add the pasta and cook for about 1 or 1.5 hours, so the flavours really meld and combine. You can add flatleaf parsley near the end, if you want to.
Pour the remainder of the oil over the soup when serving, or instead drizzle chilli oil over each individual bowl. Serve with parmesan cheese.
Tagged with soup