In the series of easy and satisfying Saturday soups I now present the magnicifenct minestrone. This was what we had two weeks ago, with socca – a savoury mediterranean chickpea flatbread or pancake stemming from the French and Italian Riviera – on the side. At the end of lunchtime, everything was gone!
Let’s not waste any words on describing how very, very simple and delicious this is – here come the recipes.
Minestrone & Socca.
- 150 g uncooked Puy lentils, rinsed (if you prefer borlotti or cannellini beans, or a blend of both lentils and beans, go ahead) + 3x the volume in water, for cooking
- 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 can finely chopped tomatoes (or the equivalent of fresh ones, ca. 400g)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ca. 6 – 7 cups vegetable broth (1,5- 1,75 l)
- 1/2 cup tiny pasta shapes (vermicelli or alphabet pasta, or whatever at hand)
- Boil the lentils in a separate pot. You don’t want to add them straight to the pot in which you’re preparing the soup, for otherwise they’ll add a murkish brown hue to your soup – and you do not want this, right? So boil them separately, drain and rinse them again, and then add them to the – bright red – soup in the final stage..
- Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the finely chopped carrots and celery. After some minutes, pour in the broth, tomatoes and tomato pastetogether with the bay leaves and rosemary.
- 1 cup chickpea flour or besan (there is actually a slight difference between the two; what I use is this besan or gram flour which I procure from an Asian store. This is a versatile, ingredient and very practical ingredient to have in a vegan kitchen, as it can quite often function as an egg substitute in a wide range of recipes, from quiche, omelette, to even cookies).
- 1 cup water (one can increase and decrease the volume of water, depending on the thickness of the flatbread you would like to achieve).
- 1-2 TB olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- herbs and seasonings of your choice; I used a TB of an Italian herb blend, which also contains some extra salt, and also added a garlic clove or two.
- Gradually mix in the water into the besan, careful not to make any lumps. Whisk until you have a smooth batter, and then add the olive oil, salt and the optional herbs.
- Let the batter rest for at least half an hour, but preferably longer. (Do NOT taste the batter in the meantime. Gram flour has a very distinct, raw flavour when uncooked, so refrain from pre-tasting, as it will only disappoint you. Not so much the final result, though. So practice some patience here.)
- Pour the liquid into a skillet and bake. — Traditionally socca is oven-baked and broiled, but since I do not have any oven-proof skillets, I just use my stove. And that works fine too.
If you google images of socca, you will find that a socca’s thickness can range from several mm, to quite thin. The one I made kind of occupied the middle ground between those two extremes.