Warm and hearty chickpea and vegetable soup

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who came out to the Flea Market in THAT weather yesterday! It was a great success and all your support was much appreciated!

And since this cold, torrential rain and gale force winds never seem to cease here’s something to help warm you up a bit! I got this recipe from the Marie Claire recipe book, Lunch. Its actually a chickpea and vegetable couscous soup recipe, but I don’t particularly like couscous, plus the soup is already so hearty, so I leave it out of my recipe. I highly recommend the suggested serving of plain yoghurt and shredded mint on top, which is delicious and totally makes it by the way, but I left it out this time as I was making to freeze. This soup is so tasty with all the spices and chilli and is alot heartier than your usual soups. It makes for a perfect chilled dinner with friends and you can add some fresh crusty bread with olive oil if you like.

The recipe: Chickpea and Vegetable Soup
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 large potato, cut into bite size pieces
1 large carrot, cut into bite size pieces
1 yellow courgette, cut into bite size pieces
1 green courgette, cut into bite size pieces
2 slender aubergines, cut into bite size pieces
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin drained chickpeas, rinsed
1 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon shredded mint

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion, garlic and chilli over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the spices and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.

Stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 -30 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Remove from the heat and serve topped with the yoghurt and sprinkled with mint.

Broccoli, toasted almonds and greek yoghurt soup

This should have been my first post of the year! What with it being the new year an’ all, there should be no better healthy way to start the year than with lots of broccoli! The toasted almonds in this recipe give this soup the extra dimension it really needs, so even if you’re not the biggest broccoli fan you can still really enjoy its benefits disguised with delicious toasted nuts and silky greek yoghurt instead of cream : )

The Recipe: Avoca’s broccoli, toasted almonds and greek yoghurt soup
Serves 4

150g blanched slivered almonds
50g butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 litre light chicken stock
250g broccoli, stems and florets cut nice and small (particularly the stems)
4 dessertspoons greek style yoghurt

Spread the almonds out on a roasting tray and toast under the grill for a minute or two until golden. You need to toss them a little during this time so they colour evenly. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

Soften the butter in the oil and gently cook the onion without browning for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, then pour in the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked, adding the broccoli and two thirds of the almonds 5 minutes before the end. Then purée the soup.

Check the seasoning and reheat. Ladle into bowls, add a dollop of yoghurt, scatter over the reserved almonds and serve. (You can only add the yoghurt after the soup has been heated or it splits.)