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Spanish Chickpea And Pepper Soup

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Ingredients

225 g/8 oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in enough water to cover, or 450 g/1 lb canned chickpeas
1 litre/1 pints water
2-3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 vegetable stock cubes
teaspoon coriander seeds
teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram (fresh or dried)
1 large potato, sliced
A large handful of spinach, shredded
Salt

To finish

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, roughly sliced
Chopped fresh parsley

Details

Serves: 4


Method

1. If using soaked dried chickpeas, drain them and put them in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Skim off the foam as it rises. Stick the garlic cloves on the point of knife and hold them in a flame until the papery covering blackens at the edges. Drop the singed garlic cloves in with the chickpeas. Add the olive oil, vegetable stock cubes, bay leaf, coriander, peppercorns, onion and herbs. Bring back to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and cook for 1 ½ -2 hours, until the chickpeas are quite soft. Keep the liquid at a rapid simmer, don't add salt, and if you need to add more water, make sure it's boiling.


2. If using tinned chickpeas, drain, add to the water with all the flavourings, and cook for 30 minutes. 3.When the chickpeas are tender and well-flavoured, remove the ham bone if using, add the sliced potato and cook until tender. Stir in the spinach and bring back to the boil. Add salt to taste.


4. Meanwhile, fry the strips of pepper in the olive oil with the garlic until the peppers soften and caramelize a little.


5. Serve the soup piping hot, with a spoonful of the peppers and their oily and garlicky juices in each serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with plenty of rough country bread rubbed with tomato and garlic.

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