There is something about a thick bean soup on a cold winter night that just works.
I’ve made this soup with chickpeas a few times, but recently I made it with Cicerchie which are like a cousin of chickpeas, used in Italian cooking (Umbrian in particular), which I gather was on the edge of fading into extinction. Even though the taste is slightly different from chickpeas, the two can easily be swapped out for one another in this soup (and probably a whole lot of other recipes).
There is no way to describe how they look and make it sounds delicious, so I’ll just dive in and say they look like broken yellow teeth. Mmmmmm. They plump up nicely when cooked, however, and in this soup they are pretty well pureed, so none of that matters anyway. You can puree the soup all the way until it is fairly smooth, but I like to leave it slightly chunky so that your mouth has something to do.
Treat cicerchie like other dried beans: soak them in cool water to cover overnight, drain them, then simmer them in fresh water to cover until tender. The amount of time will depend on your beans – mine took about 45 minutes.
This soup, like so many soups, is in fact better the next day. Or the day after that.
Speaking of bean soups….
Chunky Cicerchie (or Chickpea) Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling if desired
- 1 large red onion chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 5 stalks celery chopped
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry or whatever white wine is open, or skip it
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups cooked chickpeas or cicerchie, freshly cooked or canned
- 1 teaspoon hot chili sauce I used Sriracha, plus extra for drizzling
- Juice of ½ lemon optional
- Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese optional
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until beginning to slightly softened. Add the sherry or wine (if using) and cook until it is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add the rosemary and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and the chickpeas and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the hot chili sauce to taste, re-season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Puree partially with an immersion blender, making sure to leave some of the chickpeas whole and/or lumpy. You can tuck it in the fridge at this point, and reheat before serving; stir in the lemon juice, if desired. Finish each bowl with a squirt of hot sauce, a light drizzle of olive oil, or sprinkle of grated cheese, or all three.
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