Chickpea and vegetable soup
The standard question whenever you meet an Italian housewife is ‘What are you making for dinner today?” They seek inspiration and want to share thoughts and ideas, and sometimes the implications are mildly surprising.
The other day a neighbour told me that this time of year her family’s daily main course consists of a hearty soup followed by some kind of fruit. They are basically living off the land, and only have to bend down to pick up squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, mushrooms, eggplants, cabbage, onions, etc. Fresh, nutritious and tasty ingredients offering the additional advantage of unlimited variability. “Given such riches, who needs meat?” my friend asked. And I’m inclined to agree.
The only drawback is that a nice soup takes time to prepare. Dried beans or chickpeas have to be soaked for 24 hours in advance and boiled separately for an hour. And, although absolutely worthwhile, homemade vegetable stock amounts to an extra dish. Luckily, there are shortcuts like preparing double or triple portions of legumes and stock and preserving the rest in the freezer, or buying pre-cooked beans and good ready-made stock. Soup can be made on a sausage peg in a jiffy depending on whether you have got money or time to spare.