Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fantastic soup & another use for the rainbow chard in the garden

I know you probably wont think so when looking the the photo but this is one fantastic pot of Chick pea and chard soup.  In my opinion soup doesn't photograph well at the best of times so you have to take my word rather than go my fairly dubious looking photo above.  With the change of seasons and the weather supposedly cooling down I have moved into full 'make-a-pot-of-soup-a-week' mode.  Soup being one of my most loved foods, I love to make old favourites & am always on the lookout for new recipes.  This one caught my eye in my new ebay purchase of Skye Gyngell's My favourite ingredients.  It's a lovely book and I have tried a few of her recipes from Delicious so I was keen to start from the book, this recipe was perfect for me as I'm also on the lookout for recipes I can use my rainbow chard growing out the back in.

I cheated a bit when making the soup, I actually pretty much cooked it while playing out the back with both kids, just running inside every 10, 20 or 30 minutes to add the next ingredient, all of which I had lined up waiting to be thrown in, you cant get much easier than that.  So my cheats were, using tinned chickpeas instead of dried, ie no need to soak overnight or boil for 1 1/2 hours.  I just added the lemon juice when I threw them into the soup.  I also threw the chard straight into the soup rather than cooking it separately as suggested.  I wasnt expecting the soup to be so good, the ingredients are very simple yet all together they were amazing, one to add to my soup collection for sure.

Chickpea and chard soup - Skye Gyngell - My favourite ingredients

200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or sub with a tin of chickpeas - no need to soak)
3 tblspn extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
juice of half a lemon
2 dried red chillies
5 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed with the back of a knife
3 rosemary sprigs
2 x 340g tins of good quality peeled plum tomatoes
sea salt & freshly black pepper
1 litre good quality chicken stock
300g swiss chard
2 thick slices day old chewy bread, ie sourdough, crusts removed
75-90g Parmesan - freshly grated

Drain the chickpeas, rinse & place in a large heavy-based pan.  Cover generously with cold water , but do not season.  Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then turn the heat down.  Simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours or until the chick peas are soft, skimming away any scum from the surface every now and then.  Drain & dress with 1 tblspn extra virgin olive oil & the lemon juice.  (Note as mentioned you could skip this step & just add a can of chickpeas with the lemon juice at the adding stage).

In the meantime, warm 2 tblspns extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Crumble in the chillies and add the garlic and rosemary.  Cook for a minute or so to release the flavours, then add the tomatoes & stir well to break them up, adding a good pinch of salt.  Cover & cook for 20 minutes, then pour in the stock & cook for a further 10 minutes.  Finally add the chick peas & simmer for 40 minutes.

Towards the end of cooking time, prepare the chard.  Wash and pat dry, then strip the leaves from teh pale central stalk, using a small sharp knife, set aside.  Trim the stalks & cut into 1cm chunks.  Add these to a pan of well salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then add the soft green outer leaves & cook for a further minute.  Drain.  (Note I skipped this stage & simply added the torn leaves to the soup directly a few minutes before the end of cooking time.

Break the bread into small pieces and stir into the soup with the Parmesan, turning the heat to low.  Add the chard and a drizzle of olive oil.  Taste & adjust the seasoning before serving.

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