Chickpea and Pancetta Soup

I made this on the fly today as a huge hunger overcame me. Being just after an epic Christmas week,  I never thought I’d be hungry again but out of nowhere – a ravenous greed took hold. After clattering around the cupboards looking for something, I happened upon my stash of canned chickpeas. They’re one of those things I think I always need when I’m at the supermarket. Once home I remember I already have 15 cans… and so the collections grows. This Italian soup is fast, simple and rather filling to boot. It’s also incredibly tasty. A rich, creamy texture that managed to completely hit the spot – and left me doing the only other thing other than eating I’ve been doing this Christmas… napping.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
100g thinly sliced pancetta (roughly chopped)
2x400g cans chickpeas
500ml chicken stock

In a large pan, heat the oil over a moderate heat until hot. Add the onion, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic and gently fry for 4 minutes until golden brown. Add three quarters of the pancetta and let this fry for 4-5 minutes until golden and most of the fat rendered. Add the chickpeas with their liquid and the stock to the pan and turn up the heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and then using a stick blender, blend the soup for a few minutes until completely smooth. Return to a very low heat to keep the soup hot.

In a small frying pan, with a little oil, fry the remaining pancetta for 3-4 minutes until crisp. Remove from the pan oil and all.

Pour the soup into a bowl, and then spoon over some of the pancetta and a little of the cooking oil. Grind over a little more black pepper and the serve piping hot with some crusty bread.

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