This is a hearty dish of humble origins and ingredients, that might appear unexciting, but its appeal lies in its simplicity and combinations of flavours. It would usually be made with stale bread, but we’ve replaced this with our chickpeas and then finished it with generous spoonful of Genovese Pesto to add a bright fresh basil flavour.
2 Onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Carrots, stalk removed, cut in half lengthways, then cut into 1cm half moons
1 Bulb fennel, cut in half then thinly sliced (keep the feathery leaves for garnish)
3 Sticks celery, cut into 1 cm thick arches (keep any leaves for garnish)
4 Garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Large sprig of rosemary and thyme, leaves stripped from the stalk and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 Piece parmesan rind (optional)
½ 660ml jar Tomate Triturado or passata
750ml Chicken or vegetable stock
½ 660g Jar of Chickpeas
400g bunch Chard, or similar leafy greens, stalks separated from the leaves and roughly shredded
4 tbsp Traditional Genovese Pesto
Prep the vegetables. Place a large pan on a medium to high heat and when hot, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, fennel, celery and garlic and season well with salt and pepper. Stir to coat and cook for around 3-4 minutes, then turn the heat down, add the rosemary and thyme and gently cook the vegetables till they are soft and sweet, around 10 minutes.
If using, add the parmesan rind, then add the tomato triturado and stock and turn the heat up to a simmer. Taste and season with more salt (this will help to build the flavour as the dish cooks) and cook for around 40 minutes at a gentle simmer. Then, add the chickpeas (drained of liquid) and the greens and cook for another 10 minutes.
Taste and season with more salt and pepper as you feel necessary but remember that the pesto will also help to season the soup. Depending on how many people you intend to feed you can crack the eggs straight into the soup or you could cook them separately. If you’re eggs aren’t fresh, it would be simpler to cook them in the soup. Make 4 spaces in the soup then crack the eggs into these spaces and cook for 2-3 minutes or until all the whites have set but the yolks are runny.
Use a ladle to place some soup and vegetables in each bowl, then place an egg on top and then add a bit more soup. Spoon 1 tbsp of pesto onto each bowl then garnish with any fennel and celery leaves, if using.