Chickpea and spring greens soup (aka ‘Sludge soup’!)

It’s day 4 of my week of recipe blogging (to make up for the weeks I haven’t had time to write). So it must be time for soup! There’s not many days that go by in the year that I don’t eat soup. Even when the weather is boiling hot (which to be honest in the UK doesn’t happen very often!), there’s still so many soup options, although I have to say I still prefer mine hot rather than chilled.

My soup is often inspired by whatever I find in the fridge. It’s a great way of using up odds and ends of veggies (like broccoli stems and celery leaves) and cutting down on food waste which can only be a good thing. Sometimes though, what’s left in the fridge can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to creating a soup that not only tastes fab but looks attractive too. Anything that includes a vibrant red or orange like tomato or squash is easy. But when you’re left with greens and carrots the visuals can be a bit more challenge, as once they’re combined you’re entering the visual sludge zone!

Whenever I’ve served up a green/brown tinged soup, my kids have always groaned and said ‘oh, sludge soup’. But once tasted the bowls always end up empty, so unless they’re been depositing it on the house-plants it’s still a hit!

Spring greens, or any greens, are fabulous. Yet another member of the powerful cruciferous family, they are fresh, vibrant and vary slightly throughout the year depending on the season. I usually steam or stir fry shredded leaves with some garlic, but they taste equally amazing when added to soup. Combine them with chickpeas and a little hit of chilli and it’s a bowl of super-tasty, nutrient packed warming sludge soup. If you don’t have any greens in the fridge, use a dark green cabbage or even some chard or spinach – it will taste slightly different but still make it awesomely green!

Often I blend soups until their smooth, but this one definitely benefits from having half the mix left chunky. Blending half makes the background texture creamy with some awesome green lumpy bits, which possibly could make it look more swamp-like than sludge, but it really works. A little dairy-free yoghurt added at the end really does finish it off, especially if your chilli powder is a bit frisky and it ends up being more fiery than you expected!

So if you’re feeling brave, go for sludge – it’s surprisingly tasty!

Chickpea and spring greens soup (serves 4)
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium sticks of celery including leaves, chopped
1-2 broccoli stems, trimmed and chopped (if available)
1 fat clove of garlic, finely chopped
150g spring greens, rinsed and shredded
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-1 teaspoon chilli powder
400g tin of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
750ml water or vegetable stock
soya yoghurt and lemon juice to serve

Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the bottom of a large saucepan and sauté the onion, carrot, celery and broccoli stems for five minutes or so until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then stir in the greens, chickpeas and spices. Cook for another minute stirring all the time then pour in the water or stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for 15 minutes or so until the veggies are cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Ladle half the soup into a blender and blitz until smooth. Return to the pan and re-heat gently until steaming hot. Check the flavour and add more seasoning if required then serve with a dollop of dairy-free yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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