Meatless Monday: Roasted tomato, garbanzo and chard soup

The Italians love their soup. At least the Italian-Americans do. As a child, there was one shelf in our pantry that devoted to cans of soup. The basement freezer that kept the meat cold also held an endless supply of frozen soup.

Meatless Monday during the winter typically brings a combination of pasta and veggies and soup, more often than not it’s the latter. Time becomes a problem here, as the best soups often take more than an hour to prepare, which is often impossible on a Monday evening. A soup like this can start on Sunday and finish on Monday, as the tomatoes can be roasted separately without compromising the flavor of the soup.

The recipe comes from Chow, one of the best food-related websites on the web. I made some slight modifications, namely the elimination of cumin, allspice and cayenne pepper. There is too much flavor in the roasted tomato and Swiss chard  to simply cover up in spices.

WHAT WORKED: The tomatoes. I’ve used whole canned plum tomatoes in other soups, but the San Marzanos carmelize nicely in the oven and come out even sweeter than had you just dumped tomatoes into a stock pot.

WHAT DIDN’T: The original recipe had three cups of water. That’s excessive.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: We didn’t actually eat this as a meal at the same time. I made this on a Sunday and Monday, chilled it and we ate it on a night when I had to work late. The end result was an empty pot. I’ll let her appetite speak for itself.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: This is the first soup where we didn’t have leftovers, so it’s likely.

Roasted tomato, garbanzo, and Swiss chard soup
Adapted from Chow

  • 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in their juices, preferably San Marzano
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tsp. tomato paste
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 ounces Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (about 2 1/2 cups)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Strain the tomatoes, reserving the juices. Gently squeeze any excess liquid from the tomatoes into the reserved juices; set the liquid aside. Place the tomatoes on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space between them. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until shrunken, shriveled a bit, and a deep brick-red color, about 60 to 75 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack until the tomatoes are cool enough to handle. Cut each tomato into quarters; set aside.

NOTE: The above step can be done in advance.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften and turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute. Add the roasted tomatoes and the reserved tomato juices, stir to combine, and cook until the mixture comes to a simmer, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the basil, water, broth, and chickpeas, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Cover with a tightfitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Stir in the chard and simmer until it’s tender but still green, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil if desired, and serve.

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