Historical cooking: chickpea soup with fried bread

One of my Recommended posts was for the Historical Italian Cooking YouTube channel. Recently, they put out a new video for a super simple dish made with ingredients we typically have on hand. Today, I was able to give it a try!

Here is the video.

You can also visit this link for the written recipe.

This is an ancient Roman dish; chickpea and leek soup, with a fried flatbread called lagana.

About the only thing we had to go out of our way to get for this recipe was the white wine.

There was one ingredient we couldn’t find, though. Durum wheat flour. Any type of flour is just now becoming easier to find, but there’s no chance of finding any out of the ordinary flours. All Purpose flour, which is what we have, is made with a blend of hard and soft red wheat. Here in North America, durum wheat tends to be used in pastas. It’s the sort of thing we’d have to go to specialty stores to find. I’m sure I could find it in the city, but certainly not locally.

So I substituted AP, since that’s what I had.

First, the soup ingredients.

Another substitute I made was to use canned chickpeas instead of soaking dried chickpeas overnight. The recipe called for 2 leeks, but has almost no other quantities given. I had 2 leeks, but they were pretty massive, so I used 2 cans of chickpeas to balance out the quantities. There’s also the white wine, some olive oil, and caraway seeds ground with a mortar and pestle. I eyeballed most of the quantities based on watching the video. πŸ™‚

The soup was started by boiling everything but the leeks in salted water for 10 minutes. Then, the leeks are added and cooking continues for another half hour.

While that’s being done, the flat bread is made.

The flour was the other thing with a quantity given: 300 grams.

Unfortunately, my kitchen scale disappeared. So we had to use a converter. I used a little under 2 1/2 cups of flour. Salt is added, then a dough is formed with some warm water. That’s it, that’s all!

After the dough is kneaded until smooth, the recipe said to divide it into 10 pieces. There are 4 of us in this household, so I divided it into 12 pieces, instead.

The pieces of dough are then rolled out into rough circles.

The recipe calls for olive oil to be used to fry the bread. Olive oil has a low smoke point, so I modified the recipe a bit more. I added a bit of vegetable oil to increase the smoke point a bit. I was just frying in a pot on the stove, so this was more of a safety issue.

Once the oil was hot, the rolled out dough was fried, one at a time.

The dough bubbled up a bit in the video, but not into big dough pillows like this! πŸ˜€ This could be because of the different type of flour, or even because of the oil blend.

Not that I’m complaining! πŸ˜€

These fried up very quickly. Maybe half a minute on each side, to get them to a golden brown, before placing them on paper towel to drain. The bubbles cracked on a couple of them, allowing oil to get into the pockets. That took a fair bit of draining! The bread was finished well before the soup itself was.

They look absolutely amazing!

Taste test time!

The soup itself was very mild tasting. Possibly because I used more water than in the recipe. I couldn’t distinguish individual flavours of the caraway or the wine, for example. No one ingredient overpowered the other.

The lagana bread had a surprising amount of flavour for something that is just flour, salt and water! The outside was crispy, while the inside was chewy. It went incredibly well in the soup. A real balance of flavours. Making one without the other would not be as good as the two together.

This is a remarkably easy soup to make. The lack of quantities in the recipe made it a bit more interesting to work out, but that just gives room to adjust to one’s one preferences!

I can definitely see us making this recipe again!

The Re-Farmer

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