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Embrace the chard


Look, I know it’s Thanksgiving today. Firstly, we’re celebrating tomorrow (sadly it’s not a national holiday in France), and secondly, I’m not organised enough (yet) to be posting (and preparing?) helpful recipes before the actual day. I’m still on the traditional cook, eat, write timescale. So, I’ll no doubt be putting up my thanksgiving recipe post next week. Helpful, I know. You could always refer to my 2016 East meets West Thanksgiving Feast post, in case you’re looking for a spot of inspiration. Or just out of interest. Who doesn’t love a zatar spiced pumpkin cornbread?

Soooo. Instead, here is the simplest of simple soups. I’ve been studiously avoiding the HUGE piles of chard at our local vegetable market for the last couple of weeks for a whole host of imagined reasons: How I am going to fit one of those in my shopping bag? That’s too much chard for one person to handle. Do I even like chard? etc etc.

This week I went for it. Well, actually, I somehow forgot to pick the beast up once I’d paid at the market, so I had to send DS down to retrieve it once I was home. Pregnancy brain/compliant husband.

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Et en français...

Chard, chickpea and ginger soup with coriander and pistachio pesto

Serves 5-6, takes 30 minutes

soup / starter / main / vegetarian / vegan / autumn / winter / easy peasy / quietly smug / gluten free / dairy free / on a budget / detox / baby

What to do with chard? This. A subtly spiced, warming soup that is lovely as is, or dressed up with a fresh coriander and pistachio pesto.

* Olive oil - a few glugs

* Onion - 1 large, peeled and diced

* Carrot - 2, diced

* Garlic - 3 cloves, peeled and sliced

* Ginger - 3 thumb sized pieces, peeled and finely diced

* Ras el hanout - 2 tsp

* Cinnamon - 1 tsp

* Paprika - 1 tsp

* Parsley - a small bunch, chopped

* Chard - 1

* Vegetable stock - 1.2 L

* Salt - 2 tsps (if using unsalted stock)

* Chickpeas - 1 x 560g can

* Rose water - 1 tsp

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.

In a large pan, fry the onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, 1 tsp of ras el hanout and the other spices over a medium heat. Add a splash of water to stop things from sticking. Chop up the parsley and add the chopped lower stalks to the pan, saving the tops and leaves for later. Cover and leave the onions to soften.

Lay half of the chickpeas out on a roasting tray. Sprinkle 1 tsp of ras el hanout over the top, season with salt and pepper and add a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the chickpeas are starting to brown.

Meanwhile prepare the chard. Break off each leaf and wash. Then separate the dark green leafy parts from the white stalks. Roughly chop the leaves and set them aside in a colander.

Roughly chop the white stalks and add to the pan once the onions are soft. Stir through the onions and spices to coat the chard, then add your stock. Bring to a simmer, add the rose water and the salt (if your stock is unsalted) and cover the pan. Leave for 10 minutes.

Pour a kettle of boiling water over the colander of chard leaves (in the sink!). Add the wilted leaves to the soup along with the remaining unroasted chickpeas and the parsley.

Use a hand blender to blend into a smooth soup. It’s fine to have little flecks of chard leaves. Check for seasoning.

Serve the soup with a handful of chickpeas scattered over the top and a spoonful of coriander and pistachio pesto. If sharing with a wee babe, leave out the pesto and whole chickpeas.

Coriander and pistachio pesto

Makes a bowl, takes 10 minutes

side / perennial / party / easy peasy / showing off / date night / ready in a jiffy/ vegetarian / vegan / gluten free / dairy free

If you're making this to accompany the soup, a half batch should be plenty.

* Pistachio nuts - 125g, shelled

* Fresh coriander - a decent handful

* Fresh parsley - a small handful

* Salt - 1/2 tsp

* Lemon - juice of 1

* Garlic - 1 clove, peeled

* Olive oil - about 150ml

Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in olive oil with the mixer running (you don’t really need to measure here) until you have a thick pesto consistency. Check for seasoning and add extra lemon or salt if you think it needs it.


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