As soon as we arrived home last week, after a long stay in France, I started stocking our empty fridge and cupboards. Several trips to local supermarkets took care of the basics, but it was at our weekly farmers’ market that I found gorgeous summer vegetables, freshly baked loaves of bread, and locally crafted yogurt.
Honest-to-goodness tomatoes, deep red, juicy, and packed with flavor, were the first thing that caught my eye. They would be perfect to use for a summer tomato and chickpea soup—a dish I had created for my new book, Soup Nights.
The tomatoes need only to be chopped and seeded, then simmered slowly with chickpeas in a cumin-scented broth. Lemon, yogurt, and mint all contribute cooling accents to this soup. I used chicken broth for my version, but vegetarians can sub the quick-and-easy vegetable stock recipe that is also included.
You can serve this soup chilled or warm. Add a crusty baguette or a country loaf, a favorite salad, and fresh peaches and blueberries for dessert.
It’s good to be home and cooking on this side of the Atlantic again!
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Tomato and Chickpea Soup with Yogurt and Mint
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tsp chopped garlic
2 1/2 lbs ripe tomatoes, stemmed, halved, seeded, and cut into 1-inch dice
One 15.5-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth or stock (or Quick and-Easy Vegetable Stock, recipe follows),
plus more if needed
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, plus more if needed
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup plain whole milk (not Greek) yogurt
4 tsp finely julienned or chopped mint leaves
1. In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, heat the oil until hot. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and sprinkle with cumin. Add the chicken broth or vegetable stock, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, 35 to 40 minutes or more.
2. Puree the soup in batches in a food processor, blender, or food mill, then return the soup to the pot. (Or use an immersion blender to purée the soup in the pot.) Stir in the lemon juice. If the soup is too thick, thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra broth. Season to taste with salt and a pinch of cayenne.
3. If serving chilled, cool, cover, and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight. Season it with more salt and cayenne if needed since chilled foods often require extra salt. (Soup can be prepared 1 day ahead to this stage: cool, cover, and refrigerate. If serving warm, reheat over medium heat, stirring often.)
4. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish each serving with two tablespoons yogurt, swirling it over the top, and a sprinkle of mint. Serves 4.
Quick-and-Easy Vegetable Stock
(Yields 6 cups)
2 qt (8 cups) vegetable stock or broth (preferably a light-colored one like Swanson)
2 ribs celery cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, peeled, halved, and cut into 1-inch slices
2 medium leeks (white and light green parts only) halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 sprigs flat leaf parsley
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves, broken in half
1. In a large, heavy saucepan or pot (with a lid) combine all ingredients and place over medium heat. Bring mixture to a simmer, lower heat, cover, and cook at a simmer 30 minutes.
2. Strain through a large sieve, pressing down on vegetables and herbs to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve stock, discarding vegetables. You should have 6 cups. If not, add water to make 6 cups. (Stock can be prepared two days ahead; keep covered and refrigerated. It can also be frozen. Place in a freezer container, label with name and date, and store up to three months.
From the forthcoming Soup Nights (Rizzoli October 2016) by Betty Rosbottom