Chickpea & chard soup

This is a hearty spring soup for these cooler nights. I used chard from my garden. If you can’t get hold of chard, use spinach, sorrel or another leafy green instead. What with the greens and the chick peas it’s a great immunity boosting vitamin C-stuffed meal!

Prep 20 min
Cook 65 min
Serves 4

360g drained tinned chickpeas (1½ tins) – reserve the remaining drained chickpeas and their liquid for the other recipes
100ml rapeseed oil
Salt and black pepper
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped 
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped into ½cm cubes
3 sticks celery, roughly chopped into ½cm cubes
1 small potato, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp tomato paste
¼ tsp smoked paprika
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
900ml vegetable stock or water
600g rainbow (or swiss) chard, stems cut into 1cm chunks, leaves roughly shredded 
1 red chilli, finely sliced on an angle 
10g picked flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped 
1 lemon zested and juiced

Heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3. Pat the chickpeas dry, then spread out 100g of them on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Add two teaspoons of oil, a good pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper, toss to coat, then roast for about an hour, until golden and crisp.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high flame, then saute the onions, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned – about seven minutes. Add the remaining 260g chickpeas, carrot, celery, potato, thyme, tomato paste, smoked paprika and half the garlic, cook for two minutes. Add the stock, or water, a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium, cover the pan and leave to simmer gently for about 25 minutes, until the vegetables are completely soft. Transfer to a blender in batches and blend smooth, or use the Braun hand blender (I use it for everything), then keep warm until ready to serve.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in large saute pan on a medium heat. Add the chard stems and cook for five minutes, until softened. Add the chilli and the remaining garlic, cook for two minutes, then stir in the chard leaves, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and cook for four minutes, until wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley, lemon zest and juice.

Divide the soup between four bowls, top with the chard and the crisp chickpeas.

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