Is it soup time yet?
I think of soup, salad and bread as the perfect trifecta of meals.
So perfect noon or night. Nourishing, filling but not leaden. And so easy to put on the table.
I’m already missing summer tomatoes. But “Cream of Tomato Soup with Crunchy Lemon Chickpeas” still lets me enjoy the tangy-sweet perfume of tomatoes even off-season.
It’s from the newest cookbook by Rachel Khoo, the London- and Paris-based food columnist and host of the TV series, “The Little Paris Kitchen.”
Like her other cookbooks, “Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook” (Chronicle Books) is illustrated with her whimsical illustrations. The more than 100 recipes riff on familiar dishes with Khoo’s unmistakable thoughtful and creative touches.
For instance, pan con tomate gets the addition of garlic-herb butter and smoked paprika to wake up this classic. A smorgastarta or sandwich layer cake is like a fantasy garden come to life with its topping of cucumber balls, salmon roe, smoked salmon rosettes and fresh dill fronds. And “Peeping Mushroom Pasta” becomes a real eye-catcher when rigatoni pasta is arranged upright in individual dishes with enoki mushrooms plugging their holes.
Canned tomatoes form the basis of this simple, basic soup that’s pureed with roasted garlic, then finished with a splash of cream to give it lovely body.
What’s genius is the topping. Canned chickpeas are baked in the oven on a pan with the garlic cloves and thin slices of lemon. The chickpeas get toasty tasting and slightly crisp. They’d be great sprinkled on a salad, too. I had to restrain myself from just eating them by the handful.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the chickpeas (if you haven’t scarfed them all down already), a slice of the baked lemon that has turned caramelized and tender enough to eat, and a drizzle of cream.
The garbanzos and lemon slices add greater interest and texture. A sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley, basil, chives, thyme or tarragon would be a fine additional flourish, too.
Soup time? With this recipe, it can be any ol’ time.
Cream of Tomato Soup with Crunchy Lemon Chickpeas
(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a meal)
One 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 unwaxed lemon, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 tablespoon canola or other vegetable oil
One 28-ounce can good-quality tomatoes
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine chickpeas, lemon slices, garlic and oil in a small bowl and toss to coat. Place chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
Meanwhile, put the tomatoes and stock in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove the roasted garlic from the baking sheet and squeeze the garlic from its papery husks, then add to the saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar and continue simmering for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper, and stir in half the cream, then remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the crunchy chickpeas, a slice of roasted lemon, and a drizzle of the remaining cream.
From “Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook” by Rachel Khoo
Another Rachel Khoo Recipe to Try: Carrot Tarte Tatin
Another Tomato Soup Recipe: Ina Garten’s Easy Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Croutons