Lemony Italian Chickpea Soup

Guys, it’s been four whole months since I posted a chickpea soup recipe. I don’t know how you’ve survived this long.

In all seriousness, I recognize that posting two chickpea soup recipes in a year (and really three recipes for pureed chickpeas) might be a sign that I am not thinking enough about what other people want to eat in selecting these posts. I can’t help it.

To me chickpeas are one of the most primal foods. A good bowl of chickpeas feels timeless and connective the way a good loaf of bread does. And, while it is probably true that I only feel that way because I’m crazy, or because I was fed a lot of chickpeas at an important, but repressed moment in my childhood, it is also true that people have been eating chickpeas basically forever. (At least according to Wikipedia, which, obviously, is our most reliable historical source and certainly the only source that I am trained to use.) 

In any case, I like to to think that as long as people have been eating chickpeas, they have been eating chickpeas prepared this way. Tragically, my historical training kicked in long enough for me to check Wikipedia to see when lemons showed up in our diets, and it seems like they may be a significantly more recent addition than chickpeas so there goes that fantasy.

Ok. Enough bad history. My very simple chickpea soup: This recipe was given to me the way all simple recipes should be, orally, over dinner, while we ate it. My parents had a friend visiting from Italy and she made it for us one night when I was visiting too. The soup consists of whole chickpeas in a thick chickpea broth scented with lemon, leeks, and nothing else.


I demanded the recipe immediately and jotted her instructions–“first you take leeks, then you add chickpeas, then the peel of a whole lemon, and you simmer”–down on the back of an envelope. I asked for quantities, and she shrugged, although she did tell me I needed more leeks than she had available when making the soup I was eating.

So, I went home and experimented. Here’s the result:

Lemony Italian Chickpea Soup

Note: I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of this guy. I’m still figuring out the lighting in our summer apartment and just couldn’t get a decent shot of this soup. [Since I have very low photography standards, you know they were bad.]

– 1 lb chickpeas, soaked

– 2 large leeks

– 1 tablespoon butter

– 1 tablespoon olive oil

– 2 tsps salt

– Peel of one lemon + 1/ 2 of the lemon sliced into rounds

– 4 1/2-5 1/2 cups water

* Finely chop white and light green parts of leeks. (When I’m done chopping leeks, I always throw them in a colander and break apart the layers while running them under water to get rid of any dirt. Dirt gets way down into those guys.)

* Heat oil and butter in a pot until the butter has melted and starts to bubble.

* Add leeks to pot and heat until they begin to collapse and just start to brown.

* Add chickpeas to pot and toss with leeks.

* Add 4 1/2 cups water, salt, and lemon peel to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and allow to simmer 1-2 hours, until chickpeas are very tender but not falling apart.

* Remove from heat and using an immersion blender blend soup until about half the chickpeas are blended, but the other half remain whole.

* Return to heat, add lemon slices, and bring to simmer. If the soup seems too thick, add another cup of water while it simmers.

* Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cracked pepper.


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