Chickpea and Langoustine Soup

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.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (225 g) chickpeas
  • 4 langoustines salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Complete

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Soak the chickpeas for 2 days, then drain them. Bring to the boil in 2 pints (1.2 litres) of lightly salted – a pinch only – water and simmer until tender. This will take at least 2 hours and may take double.
  2. Blend the chickpeas together with their cooking liquor in a liquidiser.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan, and fry the onion and garlic until they start to colour. Add the crushed coriander seeds and the langoustines. When the langoustines start to give a cooked smell, maybe 2 minutes, pour in 10 fl oz (300 ml) water and bring to the boil.
  4. About 2 minutes later lift out the langoustines and remove the tail meat for use as garnish in the finished soup. Return the bones and debris to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Strain this liquor into a clean saucepan and add to it the chickpea purée. You will need to adjust the balance of flavour with lemon juice, black pepper and a little more salt. The soup should be fairly thick. If it is too thick, let it down with some water or stock.

To Complete

  1. Bring the soup to the boil and ladle into warmed soup bowls. Chop the langoustine meat and sprinkle it on top. Finish the soup by pouring ½ tablespoonful of finest, extra virgin olive oil on to each bowlful.
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