This soup is soooo tasty and heartwarming, i’d highly recommend anyone to make it. It takes just under an hour to make and could be spread out as lunch over a few days. I made the pesto from scratch and used mixed nuts as I didn’t have any pine-nuts and I replaced the parmesan with a chunk of halloumi as I don’t eat parmesan.
I’ve frozen basil and parsley leaves in a container so i’m not buying herbs out of season.
1 large onion, sliced
1 medium fennel, sliced
About 120ml olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled, cut along the centre and sliced
3 sticks celery, sliced
1 tbsp tomato paste
250ml white wine
1 tin tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp picked fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp caster sugar
2 bay leaves
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
160g stale sourdough bread (crust removed)
400g cooked chickpeas
4 tbsp basil pesto
1 handful fresh basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Put the onion and fennel in a big pot, add three tablespoons of oil and sauté on medium heat for four minutes. Add the carrot and celery, and cook for four minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the wine and let it bubble away for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and their juices, herbs, sugar, bay, stock and season. Bring to a boil, then leave to simmer gently for 30 minutes.
While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks with your hands, toss with two tablespoons of oil and some salt, scatter in a roasting tray and bake for 10 minutes, until dry. Remove from the oven and set aside.
About 10 minutes before you want to serve, put the chickpeas in a bowl and crush them a little with a potato masher or the end of a rolling pin – you want quite a rough texture, with some chickpeas left whole and others completely mashed. Add the chickpeas to the soup and leave to simmer for five minutes. Finally, stir in the toasted bread, and cook for another five minutes.
Taste the soup, and add salt and pepper liberally. Pour the hot soup into shallow soup bowls, place a spoonful of pesto in the centre, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and finish with a generous scattering of freshly shredded basil.