The smell of roasting chestnuts is one that many people associate with Italy. This soup celebrates a wonderful aroma and flavour that warms from the inside.
- 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) dried chickpeas
- 200 g (7 oz) fresh chestnuts
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 250 ml (8½ fl oz/1 cup) tomato passata
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 rosemary sprig
- good pinch of chilli flakes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- crusty bread, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe one day in advance.
- Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. The following day, drain and rinse them well. Place them in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about an hour until they are tender. Drain and set aside.
- While the chickpeas are cooking, start preparing the chestnuts. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, drop in the chestnuts and boil for 25–35 minutes until they are cooked through. The exact cooking time depends on the size of the chestnuts and you should start testing them after 25 minutes. To do this, scoop a chestnut out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon, let it cool for a minute or two and then peel it with a sharp knife. Chestnuts are difficult to peel once they cool so work quickly. Chop it in half and peel off both layers of skin. If it crumbles a bit, it’s ready. When you are satisfied that they are cooked through, drain and peel the lot.
- Select a saucepan large enough to fit all your ingredients, pour in the olive oil and heat over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the passata, bay leaf, rosemary, chilli flakes, drained chickpeas and peeled chestnuts. Add 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with a really good drizzle of olive oil and crusty bread on the side. If you reheat the soup the next day, you may need to add a bit more water as it will thicken quite a bit once cooled.
Recipe and images from Adriatico by Paola Bacchia, Smith Street Books, RRP $55.00