With a guest over recently, I found myself improvising with some ingredients to bulk up lunch. It was an unplanned creation and hence the results were all the more exciting and satisfying. I literally threw together some ingredients I already had in the house to make a very comforting and warming soup/vegetarian stew. It took under fifteen minutes from fridge to stove to table and the silence as everyone delved into their bowl with concentration, was deeply reassuring. As they came up for air, the verbal endorsements confirmed this.
It’s important to be able to whip up a meal in a matter of minutes. We all need an arsenal of these for when we have little energy or inclination to cook but want to be nourished by good home-cooked food. You can’t beat home-made soups – not only do they taste better, but you can also monitor exactly what goes into them.
I always have a range of tinned lentils on standby to use for soups, stews and salads, so for this soup I used a tin of trusty chickpeas. Everything else I had in my pantry (aka pull out cupboard…buy hey we can dream!) or in the fridge. I always have a pack or two of feta in my fridge as it can last unopened for around three months.
Chickpea, Tomato, Spinach and Feta Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 banana shallot (or small white onion), peeled and roughly chopped
2 large red chillies/chilli peppers (not the hot variety), chopped into inch pieces
4 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
1 tsp of sweet paprika
1 tsp vegetable bouillon
200ml boiling water
1 tsp rock salt
pinch of black pepper
200g fresh spinach
100g feta, crumbled
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and when it is hot, but on a medium/low heat, add the shallot and garlic and gently fry.
2. After a couple of minutes add the chilli/chilli pepper and continue to stir for a further couple of minutes.
3. Add the fresh tomatoes and continue to cook on a medium/low heat until they begin to soften. Add the tinned tomatoes to the pan and stir into the other ingredients.
4. Now add the drained chickpeas, the sweet paprika, vegetable bouillon, salt and the boiling water. Give a good stir and let simmer for a couple of minutes.
5. Finally add the fresh spinach and place a lid on the pan. After a minute give a good stir and add a little more boiling water if necessary. Taste and season.
6. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with a liberal amount of feta.
All these steps will not take more than 15 minutes max to prepare and cook.