The nutritious chickpea combines with the noble porcini mushroom in this wonderful marriage of complementary flavors–a warming and delicious soup filled with vegetables and topped with crunchy croutons.
Pureeing it in the blender makes this great Italian soup so creamy and satisfying!
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 medium all-purpose or red potato, peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped canned Italian-style tomatoes, with their juices
7 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
2. Put the porcini in a small bowl, cover with 1 1/2 cups hot water, and let stand for 20 minutes or until tender.
3. In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sage, and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, using your hands, squeeze the water from the porcini, reserving the liquid. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, and set it aside. Coarsely chop the porcini.
5. Add the porcini to the soup pot, and toss with the onions and carrots. Add the potato, tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and the porcini liquid. Season with the salt and pepper, and bring the soup to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the chickpeas are tender, about 2 hours.
6. While the soup is cooking, prepare the croutons:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups cubed Italian bread
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes, quickly tossing them in the oil to coat most sides. Cook, tossing often to brown evenly on all sides, for 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
7. Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor in batches, and puree. Adjust the seasonings as needed. Just before serving, stir in the butter. Scatter a few croutons over each serving.