IT WAS THE END OF THE DAY AND I HAD BEEN TALKING TO AN OLD BLOKE IN HIS KITCHEN GARDEN. HE POINTED TO A ROW OF SQUAT BUSHES AND INSTRUCTED ME TO PULL OFF ONE OF THE LITTLE PODS. IN IT WERE TWO PERFECTLY FORMED CHICKPEAS. THEY WERE SMALL BUT NOT TINY, WITH THE FAINTEST FLUSH OF PINK THROUGH THE SKIN. HE TOOK ME ASIDE AND SAID TO ME IN A HUSHED VOICE THAT WAS CHEEKY YET RESPECTFUL:
‘¿DECÁLOGO DE UN BUEN GARBANZO? EL CULO DE UN GARBANZO ARRUGADO COMO EL CULO DE UNA VIEJA. EL PICO DEL GARBANZO DURO Y TERSO COMO EL PECHO DE UNA DONCELLA.’
THIS IS TYPICAL OF THE NAUGHTY SPANISH IDIOM AND GOES SOMETHING LIKE: ‘WHAT ARE THE MAIN POINTS TO A GOOD CHICKPEA? THEY SHOULD BE ROUND LIKE AN OLD LADY’S BUM, BUT PERT AND FIRM LIKE A YOUNG LADY’S BREAST.’ LOOK AT A CHICKPEA AND YOU’LL KNOW WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.
WITH THEM YOU MAKE THIS COOL BUT ENERGISING SUMMER SOUP THAT CAN BE A LIGHT MEAL IN ITSELF.
Drain the chickpeas and place in a large saucepan with the carrot, onion halves, garlic bulb and bay leaves. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1–1½ hours, or until the chickpeas are soft but not losing their skins.
Remove the carrot, garlic bulb and bay leaves from the chickpeas. When cool enough to handle, peel and roughly chop the carrot and squeeze the garlic paste out of the cloves, then place both in the bowl of a large food processor. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chickpeas from the cooking liquid and add to the food processor with
To serve, ladle the soup into small bowls, then top with chopped tomato, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.