Chickpeas need to soak for two days in cold water, so this is no spur-of-the-moment soup. Baking soda is supposed to help tenderise the peas as they soak, and a pinch may be added to the water. Allow generous amounts of time when cooking chickpeas. They are indigestible if underdone and almost impossible to overcook.
I ate soups like this one in northern Italy recently. After a day’s driving, and having been constantly flashed and hooted at by the natives, a soothing and delicious meal was important to restore mental equilibrium. A holiday driving in Italy is akin to a holiday windsurfing round Cape Horn, not for those of a nervous disposition. Good dishes like this along with liberal quantities of Gaja’s and Antinori’s wines seemed to make it feel worthwhile.
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