Spicy Tomato Soup with Fennel, Basil and Chickpeas – The Spice of Life

Spicy Tomato Soup with Fennel, Basil and Chickpeas – The Spice of Life

The beautiful thing about this soup is that you don’t need meat. Just a big deep bowl, a spoon and some crusty bread.

Serves 4-6
Preparation Time 20 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 large head fennel or two small-medium ones, sliced very finely (a food mandolin works best for this), stalks and fronds removed
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tin chickpeas (400gm/14oz) or 1/2 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked until tender
1 tin Italian diced tomatoes (400gm/14oz)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped finely and packed firmly
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt to taste

METHOD
1 Place a heavy based pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and fry the onion until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fennel and cook for approximately 20 minutes. The fennel will become soft and reduce significantly in size.
2 Add the tinned tomatoes, stir through and then add the stock, half the basil, the chickpeas, tomato paste, sweet paprika, thyme, cumin, chilli or cayenne pepper and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat then simmer for 20-30 minutes.
3 Check the seasoning and add the sugar, stir through. You want to add just a little sugar to balance out the acidity. If you prefer a thicker soup you can add a little more tomato paste otherwise add the other half of the basil, stir through and serve. (The flavours in this soup get even better the next day and the soup will thicken as the vegetables absorb more moisture.)

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thanks Tanya Zouev for this recipe