Chick Pea, Tomato and Bread Soup

From Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. This reminds me of a vegetable stew and paprika dumpling recipe I used to make as a student – in the days when vegetarian food hadn’t really been invented! – only this is simpler as the bread acts like a dumpling wihtout having to do any of the work.

Serves 4-6
1 onion – halved and finely sliced
1 fennel bulb – finely sliced
120ml or so of olive oil
1 carrot – peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 sticks of celery – finely sliced
1 tablespoon tomato puree
250ml white wine
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons sugar
1 litre vegetable stock
approx 160g stale bread – sourdough, ciabatta, anything will do really – remove the crusts
1 x 400g tin chick peas – drained
salt, pepper
4 tablespoons pesto

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion and fennel until softened. Add the carrot and celery, soften for a few minutes then add the tomato puree and wine and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.

Next add the tomatoes, herbs, sugar, stock and some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil again, cover and simmer for half an hour.

While you wait, break the bread into rough chunks, toss in a little oil and salt and place in a roasting tray in the the oven at 180C for 10 minutes until dry. Set aside.

Now drain the chick peas, mash them slightly with a fork so some are crushed while others remian whole then add to the simmering soup. Once the soupd has simmered for a further 5 minutes add the bread, stir, cook for a further 5 minutes then add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide into 4-6 bowls and finish with a blob of pesto and a drizzle of olive oil.

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