I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend! We had an awesome weekend - busy but not too busy. Just the way I like it. The weather here in Columbus was absolutely beautiful. It was a nice break from the incredibly hot and muggy weather we have had recently. It was even a little, dare I say, chilly in the evenings - and it was glorious. Aside from the beautiful weather, my weekend was filled with lots of yummy food. BBQ food to be exact. I love grilled foods in general, but there is something about July 4th weekend that makes food on the grill taste even better. I think 98% of the food I ate over the weekend was at or leftover from a BBQ. I don't think America would want me to celebrate her birthday any other way.
That being said, by the time Sunday came around I was craving some healthy, non-grilled food. I have mentioned in previous posts that I love soup. LOVE.
I feel like I have been cheating on soup lately. I have totally been having a summer fling with big salads, veggie burgers, and grilled foods in general. Sorry soup...it's not you, it's me.
The little bit of cool weather we had in the evenings made me start thinking about soup again. Let's face it, I can't stay away for too long. I will always come running back to delicious, warming soup. Luckily the soup gods didn't turn their backs on me for ignoring my beloved soup for so long.
This soup is GOOD. I was actually surprised just how good it came out. This soup might even give some restaurant soups a run for their money. Maybe I'm biased. But it's definitely something I would serve if I had my own restaurant ;) It has bold, Italian flavors and is a warming and filling meal.
There are a few key things that make this soup delicious...things I would suggest not skipping.
1. White wine. I am a big fan of cooking with wine, especially in broth based soups. It enhances just about any broth. I used Pino Grigio for this dish because that is what I had on hand. Sauvignon Blanc would also be a great choice. When I want to use wine in a recipe, I usually buy a 4 pack of single serving miniature bottles of wine. That way, I am not opening a whole bottle just for a little wine. One bottle yields about 1 cup which is typically all I need. However, if you want to open a full bottle of wine, feel free to pour yourself a glass to have while you cook or with dinner (hashtag treatyoself).
2. Sourdough bread. This really takes the soup to the next level. It is so important that I even put it in the title of the soup. Have you ever had soup in a bread bowl from Panera? Similar idea here. The baked sourdough bread acts like little croutons. Yum. And it's just as delicious once it has been soaking in the soup for a while and gets a little soggy. Still yum. Don't skip the bread! *If you are gluten-free, substitute with any gluten free bread of your choice.
3. Chickpeas. I was not originally planning on adding chickpeas to this soup but I am so glad I did! When I was making this soup, I felt like it needed a little something else...a little more substance. The chickpeas do just the trick AND add a good source of plant-based protein. It's a win win.
4. Pesto. I know I said it's "optional" in the recipe but I'm not going to lie...it really adds the perfect finishing touch to this soup. I whipped the pesto together in about 2 minutes. Feel free to use a store bought pesto for convenience. Either way, the pesto is highly recommended!
Tomato, Chickpea & Sourdough Bread Soup
Somewhere between a hearty soup and vegetable stew, this filling meal in a bowl is bursting with flavor. Enjoy with a fresh side salad and good company.
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large carrot, peeled, cut length-ways in half and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 2 large slices sourdough bread, crust removed
- 2 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Vegan Walnut Pesto (optional, but highly recommended)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
- Place the sliced onion and fennel in a large saucepan, add 3 Tbsp of the olive oil and saute on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the carrot and celery and continue cooking for 5 minutes, just to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste and stir as you cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and let it simmer for a minute or two.
- Next, add the canned tomatoes with their juices, herbs, vegetable stock, and some salt and pepper (to taste). Bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
- While the soup is simmering, break the bread into rough chunks with your hands. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and some salt and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the bread is dry and crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- About 10 minutes before you want to serve the soup, place the chickpeas in a bowl a crush them (just a little) with a potato masher (or fork). You want mostly whole chickpeas to remain. Add them to the soup and let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Next, add the toasted bread, stir well, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Ladle the hot soup into bowls and spoon some pesto in the center.
Note* If you prefer to cook without wine, substitute with 1 cup of vegetable broth. Despite my rant about how delicious the white wine makes it, the soup will still taste good without it. :)