A couple days ago, we left Berlin to visit the gardens of Sanssouci Palace a few miles outside Berlin. The palace used to be the Prussian king, Frederick the Great’s summer residence, built in the 18th century. The building itself is beautiful but the terraced garden is stunning. I love being there in summer, when it’s all lush, green and in bloom but there’s a certain melancholic mood woven into the misty air on a cold, grey day that fits this time of the year perfectly. It’s pure silence, no leaves left on the trees, the marble sculptures high up on their pedestals looking down on us, wrapped in jackets and scarves on our way to another one of the park’s winter attractions, a Christmas market and its warming mulled wine.
When we got home I felt so frozen that I promised myself I’d make a rich soup the next day. I cooked canned chickpeas and potatoes in broth, puréed it into a velvety, smooth soup and sprinkled it with fresh rucola pesto, lemon zest and fried chickpeas. It’s a great winter soup, thick and refreshing, and just right before tomorrow’s feasting begins.
I wish you a wonderful and peaceful Christmas with your loved ones. Enjoy the moments of love, joy and good food! xx
Chickpea Potato Soup with Rucola Pesto, Lemon and Fried Chickpeas
For 2-4 people
For the soup
medium onion, chopped, 1
garlic, crushed, 2 large cloves
potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes, 250g / 9 ounces
canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 250g / 9 ounces, reserve 4 tablespoons for the topping
vegetable broth 900ml / 3 3/4 cups
bay leaf 1
nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon
For the pesto
rucola (arugula) leaves 60g / 2 ounces
parmesan 25g / 1 ounce
pine nuts 25g / 1 ounce
olive oil 75 ml / 1/3 cup
salt 1/8 teaspoon
For the topping
freshly squeezed lemon juice
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
You won’t need all the pesto for the soup but I don’t like making pesto in small batches. We used the remaining pesto to spread on toasted dark bread, which we enjoyed with the soup.
For the soup, heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion on medium-heat for a few minutes until golden and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and chickpeas, stir and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the broth, add the bay leaf, and season with a little salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
While the soup is cooking, purée the ingredients for the rucola pesto in a blender or food processor. Season to taste and set aside.
For the fried chickpeas, heat a splash of olive oil in a small, heavy pan on high heat. Add the reserved chickpeas, close with a lid immediately (the chickpeas will pop) and fry for 1 minute or until golden. Take the pan off the heat.
When the potatoes are soft, discard the bay leaf and purée the soup in a blender, food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cumin to taste, bring to the boil, and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Divide the soup between bowls, drizzle with a little lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkle with rucola pesto, lemon zest, crushed pepper and the fried chickpeas.