Tuscan Chick Pea Soup

Tuscan Chick Pea Soup

3/4lb (350 g) chick peas
3 1/2 pints (2 litres) vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 sprig rosemary, bound with kitchen string
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
1 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
For the relish:
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
3 tinned anchovy fillets
2h medium-sized tin tomatoes
salt and black peppercorns
Serve with:
mixed salad
wholemeal bread

Rinse the chick peas and soak overnight in a large bowl of cold water with the bicarbonate of soda. The next day, drain them and place in a large, heavy- bottomed flameproof casserole dish with the stock, the rosemary (unless you wind kitchen string round it tightly or tie it up in a small muslin bag the tough leaves will come off during cooking and spread through the soup; use a pinch of powdered rosemary if preferred). Add the unpeeled garlic cloves and the tomato puree.

Bring slowly to the boil, skimming off all the scum that rises to the surface. Position the lid so that there is a small gap for the steam to escape and simmer very gently for 2 1/2 hours, or until the chick peas are very tender. Take about two 8 fl oz (250-m1) measuring cups of the chick peas out of the casserole dish and put through a food mill with a fine-gauge disc fitted. Remove the rosemary bundle and the garlic cloves. Return the pureed chick_peas to the casserole dish. Add salt to taste.

Shortly before serving the soup, reheat it gently over a low heat. Make the relish: gently fry the 3 crushed garlic cloves and the chilli pepper in 4 tbsp oil in a non-stick frying pan for 1 minute while stirring; remove from the heat and add the anchovy fillets. Crush these into the oil with the back of a wooden spoon. When they have broken up, stir in the tomatoes and cook over a moderate heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring to reduce.

Mix the contents of the flying pan into the chick pea soup. Serve with a generous sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.

Served with a mixed salad and wholemeal bread, this soup makes a very sustaining meal.

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