Family Table

Chickpea soup

(Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff)
By Lisa Zwirn
Globe Correspondent / October 21, 2009

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Serves 6

This creamy chickpea soup is always on the menu at Azita Bina-Seibel’s Downtown Crossing restaurant Bina Osteria. “It’s typical of the Tuscan region of Italy,’’ says the chef. It’s also a healthful choice, a good source of protein, and inexpensive to make. Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), like all dried legumes, benefit from an overnight soak to soften them before cooking. At the restaurant, Bina-Seibel garnishes the soup with sauteed calamari or shrimp or with a spoonful of farro or other grain. At home, you can add a half cup of sauteed greens or broccoli. “You can add almost anything to it and make it a meal,’’ she says. The soup can be made ahead and reheated; just add more water, as needed, to thin.

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 small onion
1 small carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
7 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs (4 inches each) fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a soup pot, combine the chickpeas, onion, carrot, and water. Set over medium heat and cook without simmering (the water should hardly bubble) for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender.

2. Set a strainer over a bowl and drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking water. Discard the onion and carrot.

3. In the soup pot over low heat, heat the oil, garlic, and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the oil is flavored with the seasonings. Discard the garlic and rosemary.

4. Return the chickpeas to the pot and stir well to incorporate the oil.

5. In a blender or food processor, working in two batches, puree the chickpeas, slowly adding some of the reserved cooking liquid. Add enough liquid to make a mixture that is creamy-smooth.

6. Return the puree to the pot. Repeat with the remaining chickpeas and cooking liquid. Add a little extra liquid to make the consistency you like.

7. Bring the soup to a boil. Add salt and pepper.

Adapted from Bina Osteria