I’m of the firm belief that a soup is for life, not just for Christmas and I really enjoy mixing it up a bit with homemade soups as the seasons go by. Winter is definitely for chunky, fill-your-boots soups with as many spuds, herbs and root veg as you can lay your frost-nipped fingers on and summer is a time for lighter flavours such as minted peas or peppery watercress that refresh as well as filling that lunchtime hunger pang.
The other day had me in a bit of a quandary though…..it’s the middle of summer, yet it rained non-stop all day and well into the night. It wasn’t cold outside and the rain was that lovely, light summer drizzle but it was a bit of miserable day all the same and called for a little comfort food to cheer up the proceedings….soup! But what to choose? Something thick enough to warm my cockles and banish any rainy day blues but light enough not to render me sofa-bound for the rest of the afternoon due to potato overload. And I found just the thing in my trusted little Soups and sides cook book (and if I’ve ever spent £4.99 more wisely, I know not where)…..
Sweet potato and chickpea!
This is one of my favourite soups, which I’ve adapted slightly from the original – it’s quick, fool-proof (very important), packs a tasty punch and I’m convinced it’s ever so good for you because it’s got chickpeas in. And chickpeas rule. And because I’ve been sent from a higher power to spread the chickpea word, I’m going to share the recipe with you:-
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced (Dracula definitely won’t be paying you a visit after this)
1 red chilli, sliced with or without seeds (optional)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
1 pint hot vegetable stock
220g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use a 400g+ can instead because you can never have too many chickpeas in my opinion)
1tbsp natural yoghurt or sour cream
Dried chilli flakes to serve (optional)
Serves 2 if you don’t mind having the farts for the rest of the day or 3 if you want to be a little more modest
1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook for three minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and chilli if using and cook for a further three minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and stand back in wonder as your kitchen starts to smell like sweaty armpits. Cook for one more minute.
2. Add the sweet potato and fry for two minutes, then pour over the vegetable stock. Boil for ten minutes until the potato is tender.
At this point, the recipe and I part company as the next step is to add the chickpeas, warm them through and then blitz the whole lot in a blender or with a stick blender. I personally like my chickpeas whole so I whizz up the sweet potato and stock mix then add the chickpeas and warm through, but then I always have been a bit of a rebel with no particular cause, apart from extreme stubbornness.
3. Rebel or not, ladle a load into a bowl, swirl a bit of yoghurt or sour cream through and top with a (liberal in my case) sprinkling of chilli flakes.
And here’s a handy hint, you will know the chickpeas are sufficiently warmed through, when you sample a spoonful and one of the little blighters sticks to your lip, taking a layer of skin off with it when you finally manage to flick it away in tears (your tears, not the chickpea’s).
I’m not very good with foody photos as the following pic illustrates but I felt duty-bound to provide something that gives a very rough idea of how this wondrous snack should look…..
And yes that is bread as well….and yes it is buttered. Judge me not, for just as I can’t eat a sandwich without an accompanying bag of crisps, I am unable to eat soup, no matter how loaded it is with other carbohydrate foodstuffs, without some sort of buttered bread. Oh, and my yoghurt didn’t exactly ‘swirl’ either but what the heck, it still tasted pretty darned good as that rain pelted down at the window.