Chickpea puree with crisp croutons (Crema de garbanzos con pan frito)
Use 1 cup dry chickpeas to make 2¾ cups cooked. Soak them in water for 8 hours. Put them to cook in hot water and simmer until tender, about 3 hours. Sieving the soup after it is pureed eliminates the chickpea hulls and makes for a smoother soup.
2 tablespoons plus 1½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup diced pancetta or bacon
1 cup sliced carrot
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 boiling potato (8 ounces), peeled and cut in pieces
23/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup tomato puree or sauce (not concentrate)
2 quarts water, broth or chickpea cooking liquid
Pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced bread, cut into ½-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon smoked hot pimentón
1. Heat 2 tablespoons
of oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Fry the pancetta or bacon until the fat is rendered and the pork is crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and tip the pot so fat drains to one side. Skim out the pancetta and reserve.
2. Return the pot
to the heat and add the carrot, onion and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potato and cook 1 minute. Add the chickpeas, tomato puree and water. Season with cayenne, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat and gently simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.
3. Puree the soup
in batches in a blender. If desired, sieve the puree.
4. Shortly before serving,
reheat the pureed soup. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil. Toss the diced bread in the oil until lightly toasted, 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and the reserved pancetta or bacon. Fry 1 minute to crisp.
5. Serve the soup
in shallow bowls. Scatter the croutons, garlic and pancetta over the soup. Top each serving with a pinch of pimentón.