This recipe actually came out of my Jamie Oliver cookbook, The Naked Chef. Jamie himself gives credit to his friend Bender who found it in an old cookbook. So I guess, Bender, Jamie and I can all only take credit for recognizing a good soup when we see one. This one is quick and easy to make, tasty and really original. I have added a few touches here and there of my own, but the real beauty of it is the mixture of nutty chickpeas and silky leeks. It makes a subtle combination that really is delightful. Also, it gives me an excuse to use my beloved immersion blender...
Bender's Chickpea and Leek Soup
I've decided to attribute this one to the mysterious Bender because I don't know where he found the recipe and anyway it's a silly name.
12 ounces / about two cups chickpeas, either soaked overnight and cooked until soft or canned
a couple of cloves of garlic
4-5 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus extra for garnish
a couple of Tbs butter and a drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
crispy bacon bits for garnish
Clean and slice the leeks in ringlets. I usually slice the leeks halfway down the center before slicing and then throw the strips in a colandar to wash. This way you can make sure of getting out all the sandy grit, although you won't have pretty rings. Then again, this recipe doesn't really show them off even if you do. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed stock pot with the olive oil and add the garlic, thinly sliced. Once they begin to soften, add the leeks. (If you add them both together it will be more difficult to properly cook the garlic as it will get caught up in the leeks.)
Once the leeks are soft and smelling good, add half the broth and the chickpeas. At this point you have to decide how you want to serve the soup - as it is, puréed or semi-puréed. JO recommends the latter and I tend to agree. If you have an immersion blender just give the soup a few whizzes until you have a thick broth but about half of the chickpeas are still whole. (Alternatively, you can put half the soup in a blender or food processor and blend.)
Add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the grated parmesan, thyme and parsley and taste for salt and pepper. Let it simmer for at least 15-20 minutes.
Serve with shaved or grated fresh Parmesan and bacon bits and some good crusty bread.
Note on my aberrations: The last three ingredients in the list are mine. If you want to stay true to Jamie and Bender you should leave them out!