Even though spring is nearly at an end in the south of France, the evenings are still chilly and perfect for a plate of Chickpea, leek and fennel soup. This unpretentious soup is just SO good! If possible, try to use dried chickpeas because cooking them in a good chicken stock makes all the difference. Chickpeas date back to 7 500 years ago and are one of the oldest legumes. With their really high protein content they are definitely one of my favourite ingredients, so much so that I finished off more than half of this recipe by myself.
500g dried chickpeas (or 2 x 400g tins, well drained and rinsed)
2 litres chicken stock
A pinch of dried chilli
Extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 leeks, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1 cm pieces
Flakey sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Cover the chickpeas in water and soak them overnight.
In the morning, drain and transfer to a heavy-based pan with the chicken stock. There should be enough stock to cover the chickpeas by at least 3 cm.
Add a pinch of dried chilli, and cook until tender.
In a separate large heavy-based pan heat a little olive oil and sweat the shallots, leeks and fennel until soft.
Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the chickpeas, including the stock, lemon juice and the vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove a quarter of the vegetables and chickpeas and set to one side.
Blend the remainder of the chickpea and vegetable mixture until sooth.
Add the whole chickpeas and vegetables back to the soup and season to taste.
Serve warm with a dash of good olive oil.