I'm always looking for new riffs on tomato soup. Ideally, riffs that make it a meal unto itself, no grilled cheese or whatnot necessary. For this version, kale and chickpeas add heft while bacon adds smoky, satisfying flavor.
This soup is inspired by the classic flavors of Spanish tapas - smoked paprika, chickpeas, and ham. If you don't have smoked paprika, just use sweet or spicy paprika and add a pinch of cumin or chipotle chili powder.
Beyond spice, there are endless variations here. Kale, spinach or swiss chard are all great, as is any kind of bacon, pancetta or chorizo.
Regarding chickpeas, you can either use pre-cooked, canned chickpeas, as the recipe states, or cook your own from scratch. I actually prefer to use dried chickpeas - but it requires some planning. Start with an overnight soak, or the quick method where you boil them for 2 minutes, then soak for an hour and a half. Drain them, then cook them in fresh water for another hour, before adding to the soup. Yes, it takes time... but the texture is nicer, plus, it's cheaper. If you decide to go the dried route, use 8 oz of dried chickpeas.
Smoky Tomato Bacon Soup with Kale and Chickpeas
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 50 min Total Time: 1 hour
6 slices bacon
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
28 oz / 800 g can San Marzano tomatoes
16 oz / 475 mL chicken or vegetable stock
2 14 oz / 400g cans cooked chickpeas, drained (or use 8 oz dried if you cook your own)
1 bunch kale, stems stripped and leaves coarsely chopped into ribbons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-low heat til crisp, about ten minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Drain all but 1 tsp bacon fat from pot. Add onions and garlic; season with a bit of salt. Stir in smoked paprika and red pepper. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally til completely softened, about 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and stock. With an immersion blender, blender or food processor, blend til fairly smooth.
Return soup to pot. Add chickpeas. Cover and simmer over low heat, about 20 minutes.
Check consistency. If the soup looks too thick, add a touch of water and adjust the seasoning. Add kale and cook til fully wilted and soft, about 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, chop bacon. Serve soup in wide bowls and garnish with chopped bacon.