chickpea and vegetable soup

Nothing special here, just what was in the cupboard.

  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • carrot, peeled and chopped
  • potato, peeled and chopped
  • garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ghee or oil for cooking (I used grapeseed oil this time)
  • tin of chickpeas, hulled
  • ground cumin, coriander and chilli
  • water or stock
  • plain yoghurt, lemon and freshly ground pepper at the table

Obviously you can vary this at will or convenience. I used two medium carrots, maybe half a kg of potatoes, one onion. The key question may be how sweet you want it – and what colour.

On medium heat sauté the onion until it is softening, add the other vegetables and fry stirring for maybe 5 minutes. Turn heat down and add the garlic – no burning the garlic – and the ground spices. When the spices are thoroughly mixed in, add the water or stock along with the chickpeas. It doesn’t take long to take the skins off, you can do it while the vegetables are frying. It makes a big difference to digestibility, which is a literal pain for some people.

Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes covered. After the mixture has cooled a little you can puree it. It won’t be best on day one.

Serve alone, with toast or maybe a Middle East bread and with the accompaniments listed in the ingredients.


Pasta and chickpeas

It’s the basis of many a variant in Italy and I’ve decided to add it to our staples like this:


  • 1 tin chickpeas drained, rinsed, peeled
  • 1-2 tblesp tomato paste
  • some shallots finely chopped
  • fresh garlic finely chopped
  • small pasta shapes
  • anchovies mashed
  • salt and pepper
  • ghee
  • water/stock

Optional additions as you please….

  • parsley
  • chives
  • spring onion
  • spinach
  • lemon
  • bacon
  • parmesan grated for serving

I started out frying shallots and garlic in ghee, adding chickpeas and then the water or stock if you prefer and lastly the tomato paste. Let all this simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. This can sit in the fridge once it’s cool.

When you come to preparing the meal, boil the pasta but keep it underdone, drain, put back in the pot and add however much of the chickpea mixture you want as well as the mashed anchovies which will melt through. While this is reheating and the pasta is finishing its cooking chop herbs or other last minute accompaniments. Add and stir through. Serve.

For two people the first time I did this I added a small bunch of parsley, half a bunch of chives, the white of a spring onion and before serving sprinkled snipped spring onion greens on top. The second time I made the addition finely chopped spinach.

The possibilities are endless, one could add an Indian element by sprinkling garam masala on top. Fresh chillies would work well too.

It can be as soupy or stewy as you please. Part pureeing the chickpeas is an idea I have not explored yet but will obviously enhance a move from the one to the other.

This is cheap, healthy and tastes great. It is also quick and flexible – in Italy carrots and celery may be added, but I wanted something that wasn’t an echo of minestrone. You could also make in large quantity and freeze the first part of the recipe, the stock/chickpea/tomato paste combo.


Roden’s spinach and chickpea soup revisited

When I went to make this much loved recipe, I discovered that I had a couple of issues. Firstly, the only vinegar I had was so woosy that one could scarcely tell it was vinegar at all. It was a Coriole sweet aged red wine vinegar, to be precise. Secondly, I had no stock, either chicken or vegetable, so water had to do.

I thought I had free rein at this point to vary it as I pleased, and instead of cumin and paprika, I added ras el hahout.

Worked a treat!

Carrot soup

The very best thing about leaving home when I was a teenager was not having to eat cooked carrot anymore. I truly hated the overcooked stuff whether boiled or roasted. Ugggh. Sweet mush.

But you grow up, don’t you? And although I still grumble about it, I do cook it one way or another. Not to hardsell the following.

Roasted carrot soup, after trawling the internet for opinions


about 750g carrots, peeled, cut into chunks and roasted at 180C with butter dotted here and there. It’s ready when it is starting to caramelise – or to taste.

2 onions chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

2 sticks of celery chopped

ghee or olive oil (or your preferred something or other for frying)

generous amount of ginger – at least a tablespoon chopped

chicken stock

a tin of coconut milk (optional)

Snipped spring onion greens and finely chopped chilli on top when serving


Fry the onions on medium heat, add the other uncooked vegetables, keep frying, add the carrot towards the end of that process. Add the water/stock. Simmer until you feel like it is all cooked enough. Puree.

Add coconut milk or more water to desired thickness.

This is enough for a soup course for at least six people.





Pumpkin soup

Who says I can’t get over things? In my uni days a staple of student life was pumpkin soup. It’s only taken me thirty odd years to be able to eat it again.

Photo: think of something orange and liquid. Hold that in your mind’s eye.


1kg diced pumpkin
an onion diced or shallots
garlic chopped
a couple of chillies chopped
ginger finely chopped or pressed, maybe 2 square inches
cooking oil – I used grapeseed oil
stock or water – I used a Massel reduced salt vegetable stock cube
can of coconut milk


In a large pot heat the oil and fry the shallots, garlic, chilli and ginger until shallots are softened. If using onion I would cook it for a while before adding the rest.

Add the water or stock and pumpkin. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, until pumpkin is soft. It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Puree. Heat again and add coconut milk.

There is no given quantity for water, it depends on how much pumpkin you are cooking and what sort of consistency you want it to be. I can’t stand the thick sludges that often pass for soup and mine today couldn’t be more different from that. I want this kind of soup to be something you drink, not eat, delicate in a Simon Hopkinson ‘cream of’ soup sort of way. But if sludge is what you want, sludge is what you will get by reducing water/stock to taste.

Claudia Roden’s Spanish spinach and chickpea soup

I first discovered this dish on a blog called One Dish Closer, well worth taking a look at. It made me buy the book. I haven’t tried a lot from it yet, but this recipe alone gives it a place on my kitchen bookshelf.

Spanish spinach and chickpea soup
Spanish spinach and chickpea soup


3 medium potatoes (500g) peeled and cut into quarters
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained
1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, stock cube if you like
500g spinach leaves, fresh or frozen and defrosted, chopped
1 tablespoon red or white vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled
2 slices of bread (about 75g), crusts removed
1 teaspoon pimentón dulce or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of ground chilli pepper or cayenne (optional)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, yolks reserved and whites chopped


In a large saucepan bring the potatoes, chickpeans and 750ml of the stock to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add the chopped spinach, stir in as it collapses. Add vinegar and simmer another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic and bread, and stir until brown: don’t burn the garlic! Put in a mixer/blender with the spices and egg yolks and puree. Add the remainder of the stock and blend again. Mix into the soup, simmer another 10 minutes, stir in the chopped egg whites. You can add a little water if you think necessary before serving, but this is supposed to be chunky, maybe a stew as much as a soup.

This is really a wonderful soup. Half asleep a couple of days ago I pureed the whole soup and this turned out to be okay as well. In fact there may be times you might prefer it, for example, as a small start to a meal.

Serve with bread or toast.

Souping zucchinis.

This is a toughy, but it is well worth the incredible effort and accuracy involved.


A large onion, peeled and chopped
A potato – medium to large – peeled and chopped
some zucchinis, eg this morning I had 7 medium ones, topped, tailed, chopped
butter and olive oil, or some such
curry powder or substitute
cream and/or milk


In a medium to large saucepan, gently fry the onion and potato in the butter and oil until the onion starts softening and cooking. Maybe 5 minutes.

Add the curry powder – I’ve been using Ras el hahout instead, the recipe I use to mix it is here – but I’m sure curry powder would be just as good. Mix and fry GENTLY, no burning the spice powder, for a couple of minutes, add the zucchini, fry another minute or two. Throw in water to more or less cover. Bring to the boil and then turn to a simmer. When cooked – maybe thirty minutes – puree. Reheat, add cream and milk to taste.

I don’t like these sorts of soups being really thick, gluggy thick. They should be liquid.

Serve with bread, toast….