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Archive for January 27th, 2010

The spices used in this dish can be found across North Africa, well into Asia and beyond, so this is a dish which crosses cultures.   Add a little less liquid and some chicken or lamb plus pickled lemons and/or olives and/or dried fruit and the flavours easily make it North African or Middle Eastern style food.  If the liquid, apart from the tomato juice, was not added at all it would equally well be at home as a side dish at an Indian style meal. I expect, with further tweaking, it would also fit into other cultures.  Here, however, it is simply served as a warming and filling soup and is almost a meal in itself.

I am not sure why I had not seen this recipe before but it was brought to my attention by a post from LoubyLou, on the ‘Nigella’ forum, hunting for a long lost favourite Sarah Brown recipe (sadly the forum and all its useful shared information and forummers recipes are no longer in existence, at least in the same format).  I own four Sarah Brown books and I found what I think is the same recipe in the book Sainsbury’s Healthy Eating Cookbooks: Beans, Nuts & Lentils.  I just had to try it out and sure enough it was lovely.  We really liked the pronounced ginger flavour (I may have overdone it a bit) but it was a bit spicy for my daughter who added a little yoghurt and then loved it too.  The method below is almost as in the book, but halving the ginger which is actually, rather than the chilli powder, the main source of heat.  Double the amount below for a spicier soup.  It is always good to add fresh coriander if available, reserving a leaf or two to garnish.  I did feel the quantity was rather scant to serve 4 unless you only plan to serve a small bowlful: as a lunch dish it needs extending, possibly by doubling.  This is a chunky rather than smooth soup, with the chick peas as the largest pieces, so chop the onion finely.  The original recipe suggests using dried chick peas as an alternative: 3ozs (75g) dried peas yield around 6ozs (150g) cooked peas.  I find it easier to open a tin, especially as they have become so inexpensive to buy, but for those on a budget I am sure that dried peas would still be cheaper.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Chick Pea & Tomato Soup
(Serves 3/4)

2tsp/10ml olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp/15ml ground almonds
2tsp/10ml garam masala
½tsp chilli powder
1tsp/5ml ground coriander
1tsp/5ml turmeric
½tsp/2.5ml grated fresh root ginger
14oz/400g tin of plum tomatoes, pureed
14oz/400g tin chick peas (see above for using dried peas)
½pint of vegetable stock, possibly a little more
Salt & pepper
A handful of chopped fresh coriander, if available, reserving a few leaves to garnish.
A spoonful of yoghurt (optional)

1.  Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft, but do not let it brown.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook gently for a further 2 or 3 minutes.

2.  Mix the ground almonds and the spice powders with a little water to make a paste.  Add the paste to the onion/garlic/ginger mixture and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.

3.  Stir in the finely chopped tomatoes, chick peas and stock.  If the chick peas are tinned in water then this can be added as part of the stock, even if it is slightly salted.  (The seasonings can be adjusted later.)  If using home cooked peas then the unsalted cooking liquid can be used as part of the stock.

4.  Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes to enable the flavours to develop.  Top up with a little more water as necessary.  Check seasoning and stir through all but the reserved fresh coriander just before serving.

5.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh coriander and serve with crusty bread or alternatively with soft or toasted pitta or a similar flat bread.

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