Chickpea and Spinach Soup

Chickpea and spinach soup

Rowley Leigh’s recipe from the FT, made by Marlene – really warming and satisfying. For 6

200g chickpeas
4 cloves garlic
1 chilli
1 onion
2 tbsps olive oil
100g lardons or pancetta (cd use smoked bacon), cut in small cubes
2 tomatoes or 100g tinned tomatoes, skinned & chopped
1/2 tsp pimenton picante or cayenne
a generous pinch saffron (if you have it)
750ml chicken stock
400g spinach

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water (or put in pan of cold water, bring to the boil and leave to stand for 45 minutes). Drain them, cover with fresh cold water and bring to a simmer. Skim the surface and then add the chilli and three garlic cloves. Simmer gently, not allowing the chickpeas to dry up, for at least two hours or until perfectly tender. Allow to cool in their own liquor.

2. Peel and chop the onion quite finely and stew in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil with the last clove of garlic, chopped, and the lardons/pancetta. After 10 minutes, but without letting this mixture brown, add the tomato and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the saffron and pimento/cayenne. Now add the chickpeas, squeezing the pulp out of the garlic, together with its liquor and the chicken stock. Bring this to a simmer and season with a little coarse salt.

3. Pick the stalks from the spinach and wash the leaves in several changes of water. Heat a large pan with a film of olive oil and sear the spinach until it wilts. Drain, squeeze out any excess water, turn out on a board and chop it quite finely before adding to the soup. Check the soup for seasoning and serve with grilled or fried bread.

You could try making without the lardons and using veg stock and parmesan rind to make a vegetarian version. For more warming soups see Top six soups to banish the winter cold.

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