After all the excesses of Christmas we were craving something wholesome, nourishing & warming.. something with veggies, and rich broth, like a soup or stew. We’d ploughed our way through most of the leftovers and were looking for something in a different genre. Preferably with no Brussel Sprouts. However we were trying not to have to venture out for more ingredients, and to use up any still kicking around the fridge. So I took stock of what was in there, and started to leaf through my recipe books.
I had happily received two cookbooks written by one of my cooking hero’s this Christmas- Yotam Ottolenghi, whose recipes are wonderfully focussed on vegetables, and this recipe is a slight adaptation of one of them from his book Plenty- called Chickpea, Tomato & Bread Soup. In turn, he was inspired by an Italian Tuscan soup called Ribollata, which I have fond memories of eating years ago in a little village in Tuscany and have never quite managed to replicate.
One of the nice things about this kind of stew/soup is that you don’t have to be too exact with the ingredients, you use what you have around. As for Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe, I left out the bread (mostly because we didn’t have any suitable left in the house) and omitted the celery from the original recipe. I also added some cavolo nero ( Italian kale) to the soup. Firstly because I had quite a lot that needed using up in the fridge, but secondly because my hazy memory of eating the soup in Tuscany had some greens in it, quite possibly cavolo nero. I also used leftover prosecco rather than opening a bottle of wine. In any case, it’s the mix of herbs and rich tomato that makes this so richly flavoured, yet somehow light and energising at the same time. Perfectly comforting for when you want something to counteract weeks of overindulgence yet when a green smoothie is too coldly unappealing.
This stew works even better the next day, We stayed in on New Years Eve & ate this soup happily, then went for a long walk today (New Years Day) and scoffed this down afterwards.
- 1 large onion , diced
- 1 medium bulb fennel , sliced
- 1 large carrot , peeled & cut into quarter coins
- 3 Tbs olive oil
- 1 Tbs tomato puree
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 250 ml white wine
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp chopped fresh parsely
- 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 10-12 cavolo nero leaves , stripped of their stalkes and sliced
- 1 tsp sugar
- 400 g chickpeas- either tinned or freshly cooked.
- 1 litre vegetable stock (I used 3 tspns marigold stock powder in boiled water)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 tsp per person of pesto to serve I used a good bought one.
Place the onion & fennel in a heavy saucepan with the olive oil & sweat until translucent.
Add the carrot & continue cooking for a few minuted, just to soften them.
Add the tomato puree and sautee for another 2 mins.
Add the wine & let it bubble for a minute.
Add the tinned tomatoes and stock.
Simmer for 20-30 mins.
Roughly squish half the chickpeas with a masher in a bowl, you want some whole & some to thicken the stew. Add them all into the stew, plus the cavolo nero.
Bring back to the boil, add salt & pepper & taste for seasoning.
Divide between bowls & serve with a teaspoon of pesto & a drizzle of olive oil on top.
This also tastes divine with a hit of chilli oil or hot sauce if you are a chilli fiend.
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi