This soup may be the result of cooking too many Yotam Ottolenghi recipes over the years and the fact that I now love to add specialty Middle Eastern ingredients to all of my vegetable dishes. Or it came about because I needed to exercise some pseudo painterly inclinations and play with bright colors and pure aesthetics while stuck inside during a snowstorm. The actual recipe was inspired by a pureed chickpea and sage soup I found in Cuisine Nicoise: Sun-Kissed Cooking From the French Riviera by Hillary Davis (the blogger behind Marche Dimanche). I love the confluence of seemingly disparate flavors in this smoky sweet bisque. And, by the way, harissa? I can't seem to stop adding it to dishes. —Maja Lukic - Veggies & Gin
kabocha or butternut squash (approx. 2-3 lbs.)
dried chickpeas (or 2 cans)
avocado oil (or other cooking oil)
red onion, chopped
4 to 5
sage leaves, rolled tightly and sliced into thin strips
garlic clove, minced
4 to 6 cups
chickpea cooking liquid or vegetable stock (or water)
for garnish: 1/4 cup harissa, 1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, raw, 8 sage leaves
If using dried chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight. Drain and rinse well. In a large soup pot, cover the chickpeas with an inch or two of cold water, add in 1 bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for about an hour to an hour and a half or until tender. Season with 1/2 tsp of sea salt. If you're not cooking the soup right away, store the chickpeas in their cooking liquid in the fridge for a few days. Otherwise, drain the chickpeas and reserve the cooking liquid but discard the bay leaf. If using canned chickpeas, drain the beans and rinse them well. Discard canning liquid.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and slice the squash into 1-inch cubes. Drizzle with avocado oil (or other cooking oil) and season lightly with sea salt and black pepper. Roast for about 35 to 40 minutes or until soft and lightly browned, stirring halfway.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil over medium high heat. Sautee the onion for a few minutes until translucent and fully cooked through. Add garlic, sage, and thyme and sautee for another minute or two. Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and heat them through.
Blend the chickpea mixture and the roasted squash together with 4 to 6 cups of chickpea cooking liquid and/or vegetable stock. The amount of liquid you need will depend on how thick you'd like your soup to be.
Pour the blended soup into a large pot and cook over low heat until it comes to a gentle simmer. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and season with additional sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
Toast the hazelnuts in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 to 10 minutes or until they're fragrant and the skin starts to crack. Transfer the roasted hazelnuts to a clean kitchen towel and allow them to cool. Then gather the towel into a little bundle and massage the hazelnuts to remove the skin. Most, though not all, of the skin will flake off. Once peeled, roughly chop the hazelnuts.
Fry 8 fresh sage leaves in very hot olive oil for a few seconds to crisp them up. Remove them with a slotted spoon or spatula to a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.
Portion the soup into four bowls (or more, depending on the amount of stock and squash you used). Swirl a tablespoon of harissa into each bowl of soup and top each bowl with two fried sage leaves and a few toasted hazelnuts. Serve.
Suggested Shortcut: Instead of 1 cup dried chickpeas, use 2 cans of chickpeas. Roast the squash, onions, sage, and thyme together in the oven. Blend everything together with 4 to 6 cups of vegetable stock (or water) and proceed with seasoning and garnish as above.
Notes: If you don't want to use squash, feel free to swap carrots or sweet potatoes or any other root vegetable. Be careful when reheating the soup because it has a tendency to bubble and boil.