Chickpea soup with pancetta and sage

Chickpea soup with pancetta and sage

Andy Sewell

Full of satisfying flavours, this soup makes a lovely, warming wintry starter, although I more often have a larger bowl of it for lunch during the week with some good bread. Look for chickpeas that are creamy in colour and consistency and not too wrinkly – indicating that they have been dried relatively recently. As they age, they tend to become shrivelled, and darken.


Quantity Ingredient
250g dried chickpeas
1 bouquet garni, (thyme, parsley and bay)
1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
1 ripe tomato, quartered
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to finish
180g pancetta, derinded and cut into strips
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
6 sage sprigs
2 bay leaves
1 dried red chilli
2 tablespoons tomato paste
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Start the night before. Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water (ideally twice their volume) overnight.
  2. The next day, drain the chickpeas, and place them in a large saucepan with the bouquet garni, halved garlic bulb, tomato add 1 tbsp olive oil (but no seasoning). Cover and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook until the chickpeas are tender, topping up with water if necessary; this will take about 1½ hours. Take off the heat and set aside.
  3. In a separate pan, heat a little olive oil over a medium-low heat until warm, then add the pancetta, onion, carrot and celery. Cook gently for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Add the garlic, sage and bay leaves, crumble in the chilli and cook for a further 5 minutes. Now add the tomato paste and stir well to combine.
  4. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquor; discard the garlic and bouquet garni. Add a third of the chickpeas to the soup base. Tip the rest of them into a blender and add half of the reserved cooking liquor. Purée the chickpeas until smooth, adding a little more of the liquor if necessary – to get a good soupy consistency. Stir the chickpea purée into the soup and add more water if necessary – it should be thick and hearty but not cloying. Discard the sage and bay leaves. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
  5. Ladle into warm soup plates and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Serve with warm crusty bread.
Skye Gyngell
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