Chickpea, Chestnut, and Kale Soup

By Michael Crupain, MD, MPH

This delicious soup is hearty and creamy without having any cream. It’s great for breakfast or lunch, especially in the winter. This particular recipe was inspired by a similar soup I had in a town in Italy about an hour north of Rome. We were driving to visit some friends in southern Tuscany and stopped in a small restaurant called Ristorante Tre Re (Three Kings) in the old city of Viterbo. I ordered the chickpea and chestnut soup and it was the most delicious thing I had ever had. I later learned that this area is famous for its soups!

This Use this recipe as a template for making other soups. Feel free to use different beans and other ingredients or adjust the amount of vegetables depending on how hearty you want your soup. The trick to making it extra creamy is to puree the beans in some of the soup before the add the kale. The chestnuts are what really make this like the soup I had in Italy, but its just as good if you omit them. If you have a great variation let us know in the comments

About 8 servings

Ingredients

For the beans

2 cups of dried chickpeas or 4 cans of cooked chickpeas

(if using dried beans you will also need)
1 t baking soda
Two rosemary stalks leaves removed for later
3 bay leaves
1 onion cut in half
salt 

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For the soup

¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
2 celery stalks chopped
1 head of fennel chopped
12 oz jar of peeled chestnuts broken up with your hands
2 T rosemary
1 t of chili flakes (if you want a little heat)
¼ cup tomato paste
About 12 C Water

1 bunch kale finely chopped

 

Soak and brine the chickpeas overnight in water with 1.5 T of salt per 8 cups.  Adding the salt helps breakdown the pectin which ensures more even cooking. They will more than double in size.  Before cooking drain them and rinse a few times until the water is clear.  Put the beans, baking soda, onion, rosemary stalks in a pot and cover with cold water and 1 t of salt.  Cook over medium heat until tender.  The baking soda makes the beans cook much faster, because it also helps break down the pectin.  Some cooks advise not adding salt to your bean water, because it will cause beans to be tough, but this is not the case.  When the beans are done cooking remove the onion and rosemary stalks and drain the beans to a colander.

 
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Heat a Dutch over or other heavy bottomed pot over medium high and add the olive oil.  Next add the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel and sauté for about 8 minutes until starting to lightly brown.  Next add the chestnuts and sauté for another 3 minutes.  Add the rosemary and cook for one minute more. Move the vegetables to the side and add the tomato paste.  Spread it out so as much is touching the surface of the pan as possible.  Cook for a minute until it starts to leave a residue on the pan and then mix in with the rest of the vegetables.  Cook for another few minutes, until tomato paste develops a darker color.  Now add 12 cups of water and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the browned bits.  This will add extra flavor to your broth.  Bring soup to a simmer for 5 minutes.  Mix a cup of  soup with cup of beans and puree in a blender, then add to the broth.  This will create a creamy texture. Add the beans to the broth and simmer another 5 minutes. If you want it more creamy, you can either cook it longer or puree more. Finally add the finely chopped kale and cook until it softens about 5-7 minutes.   Taste and season with salt.