Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large pot. When oil is hot add sliced shallot. Toss a few times and remove when the shallot is lightly browned and crispy. Lay the fried shallots on a clean cloth napkin and set aside. Note: If you’re using onion or opting out of frying shallot, sauté it instead on lower heat until translucent and leave it in the pot.
In the same pot lower the heat to medium and add celery to the oil. Cook until the celery is slightly translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, bay leaves, dried herbs, a pinch of salt and a few good grinds of fresh pepper and stir. Then slowly add enough stock or water to cover the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
Cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chickpeas are just cooked through and crush easily with a fork. If you’re using precooked chickpeas (i.e canned) the simmer time will greatly reduce.
Remove the soup from the heat and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. In small batches carefully puree the soup in a blender or food processor, adding more water or stock as needed for the soup to become smooth. Top with the fried shallots and serve with warm flatbread.