Monday, 25 February 2013

Chick-Peas Please!

Zuppa di Ceci, Lenticchie & Cicoria
Chick-Pea, Lentil & Dandelion Green Soup

Believe it or not, there are a few "convenience products" that I actually think are pretty wonderful and always make sure to have in the house. Canned tomatoes- pretty unbeatable! Frozen peas- couldn't be any fresher bought fresh! And canned chick-peas too- already cooked to perfection and just needing to be heated and enjoyed... perfect for a cold Winter's night when you just want to relax and enjoy a comforting hot soup!

I would never buy a canned soup, but canned pulses are a good thing- as long as they have nothing added. Of course you can still soak dried chick-peas over night, the old fashioned way... but let's face it... that does not make them any fresher! So, given the choice over the 2 options of how to enjoy chick-peas that are not fresh from the pod- the freedom to be able to spontaneously pop open a can and enjoy straight away, rather than planning ahead a whole day  makes this question a no-brainer in my books! So pop that can and let's get cooking!

I have always loved the combination of legumes, preferably mixed as in this case, and bitter greens-  even way, way back when I was a kid, growing up in England. All of my schoolmates would be eating cottage pie, fish and chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding... and my mom would be cooking up pots of these old-time dishes from The Old Country... aah, memories! But these kinds of meals were inexpensive enough for it to be easy to feed 9 hungry kids- and tasty enough to keep them happy! And you will like it too I'm sure!

I started mine off by finely dicing, carrot, onion, celeriac (or you can use regular celery if you like) and sautéing them all in a little olive oil for 4-5 minutes, with a little salt, pepper, finely chopped garlic and a leaf of bay. In the meantime, wash and finely chop the dandelion greens and measure 1 cup of lentils, ready to add in a few minutes. 

Next, add some tomato paste and stir it in, then add the greens and the lentils and just enough boiling water to dissolve the paste and to pick up all of the good flavors. You can substitute the dandelion greens with cabbage, kale, spinach or any other greens you may prefer- but I had these at home at the moment and in they went! I topped up the saucepan with more boiling water, adjusted the salt accordingly, reduced the heat to a low simmer and let the broth boil away for 10-15 minutes until the lentils were almost cooked.

When the lentils were good, but still had a little too much bite to them, I added the chick peas and a drizzle of olive oil. I let the soup come up to the boil, then reduced the heat to a slow simmer and let it gently bubble away for 5 minutes more- by which time the broth had thickened nicely and was rich with flavor and chick peas and lentils were tender and delicious! I served it up with a good pinch of dried chili flakes and a last little drizzle of olive oil... and the cold and the snow were a thing of the past! Yum, yum, yum! 

No comments:

Post a Comment