I first discovered this soup several years ago. I promise you that it tastes much, much better than it looks. But it isn’t for those of you with food sensitivities, unless you’re only avoiding dairy–the creaminess comes from bread. Which makes the final result thick and unctuous, with a texture similar to ribollita. (https://dreamsofmyfava.com/2013/04/07/ribollita/) The flavor, however, is completely different, very bright and summery, with an almost citrus-like tang. It’s addictive.
The original recipe is from Skye Gyngell’s My Favorite Ingredients, which at the time I had out from the library. So I had the book, which contained this recipe. And I had planted my first ever garden, in a 4′ x 6′ plot at the Peterson Garden Project. (www.petersongarden.org) It didn’t produce much that year. But for some reason, the Swiss chard grew like mad. I couldn’t keep up with it. Especially because I learned that I really don’t like it all that much. At least I didn’t before I tried this soup.
Truly, I still don’t love Swiss chard. But I grew it again this year in large part because I need a steady supply for this soup. Which I now crave. Indeed, this soup is so astonishingly delicious that after making it the first time I immediately ordered the book. If you don’t already have it, I recommend that you do so as well, especially since I just noticed there are a bunch of great deals on Amazon. (www.amazon.com/My-Favorite-Ingredients-Skye-Gyngell/dp/1580080502) Every recipe I’ve tried has been one of the best things I’ve ever made. And the book is beautiful.
Unfortunately, I have not yet unpacked my cookbooks. This moving in process is taking much, much longer than moving out. Which, while not ideal, has unexpected benefits. Like realizing that I did not actually need to buy a cabinet from IKEA for the bathroom. It’s true that my bathroom items aren’t perfectly organized and things aren’t as convenient now as they were before. But they’re completely fine. Good, even. Just different.
What does my bathroom have to do with soup, you ask? Thankfully, not much. Just that like my bathroom, when I decided to make this soup I had to make do, to be flexible, deal with what is. Which ended up with a similar lesson. That I can adapt. Look it up online. And then make it your own. What follows is my modified version of Skye Gyngell’s soup. Mine isn’t quite the same. It has double the Swiss chard and isn’t as lemony. But, like hers, it’s nourishing, comforting, and quite delicious. Here’s what I did.
2 c. cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I had some in the freezer but you could also use canned)
1 sm. can plum tomatoes (or half a 28-oz can–freeze the rest or use for something else)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 c. chicken broth
1 dried chili
2 springs rosemary
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 slice of day old, chewy bread, crusts removed
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1. Heat 1 T. olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Crumble the chili pepper into the oil, add the garlic and rosemary, and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, using the back of a wooden spoon to break them up. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the chicken broth, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 40 minutes.
2. Wash the chard and remove the stems. Tear the leaves into small pieces. You can either dice the stems or discard.
3. Just before the 40 minutes is up, remove the rosemary and add the bread and about 3 T. of grated Parmesan to the soup. Stir until the bread dissolves into the soup. Add the chard and cook another five minutes or so, until the chard is tender. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
This recipe makes two generous servings. After all, I’m cooking for one. So this is perfect: dinner one night, and lunch the next day. The original recipe makes a larger amount, enough for a family. If you’re cooking for more than one, you can easily double this recipe using the same amount of Swiss chard.