Delia Smith's Winter Collection
FEBRUARY 16 2012


"I stand before you ashamed yet undeniably guilty of soup-icide. My only excuse is that I was led astray by the persuasive influence of one Delia Smith. She sweet-talked me and made me believe, albeit hesitantly, that the chickpeas would be better off in the blender, processed until fine and smooth. I did as asked and am now filled with regret." ~ Day, 15 minutes ago

The opening paragraph above was composed while tonight's soup was in it's final 30 minute simmer. I'd been tasting it all along and thought it bland, liquidy, meh. And I have always found pureed soups to be lacking any real qualities other than a strong similarity to baby food. (Except the turnip velouté at Beast, which rendered me speechless). Then, I had my first bite of the finished soup in all it's glory. And immediately realized I would be completely rescinding every word in the above paragraph. I only leave it in this post to illustrate how first impressions should not always be trusted.

This soup is damn good. I could possibly open a highly successful food cart downtown based solely on this soup. It's complex, rich, subtly spiced and perfectly complemented by the sprinkling of cilantro, crunchy croutons, cool crème fraîche and kickin' jalapeno.

chickpea soup with all the fixin's

Let's back up a couple hours (or days, even). I decided last weekend to pre-soak the beans for every recipe in Delia's that wanted me to "soak overnight in twice their volume of cold water". Soaked, then frozen, the beans are ready to go at a moment's notice for an easy weeknight meal. So, today, with the pre-soaked, labeled bag of chickpeas defrosted (I know I am insane), I put the soup into action.

Although pre-soaked, the chickpeas still had to simmer an hour until squashy. In the meantime, I got to work on the croutons. Very easy... just toss cubed bread with olive oil and grated Parmesan then bake 10 minutes. They were perfectly browned, lightly crunchy and very lovely. Set them aside while I continue.

no! you can't have any yet!

cumin, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and turmeric gently sauté in butter. smells delicious!

Whip up the spice mix, which smells fantastic, and wait for the chickpeas to be absolutely tender. Once super soft, they go into the blender to be liquidized with the spices, cilantro stems and lemon zest. As they whirl, I resign myself to a mediocre dinner and pour myself a gin and tonic.

puréeing in the cilantro stems, spices and lemon zest. looks a bit like puke :(

Thirty minutes later, the puree has simmered until thickened slightly and deepened a bit in flavor. I whisk in the crème fraîche and lemon juice and call "soup's on". Okay, here goes. Oh... ummm. This is actually good. Really, really good. I happily lick my bowl clean and resolve to tell the true story about a little soup that could. And really, really did!

finished soup and it's oh so good!

p.s. Mexican overtones? Uhmm...not so much. More like Indian or Middle Eastern. The coriander, cumin and turmeric combine into a subtle, yet addicting, curry which would be killer ladled over rice with a big scoop of chutney.


This has decidedly Mexican overtones. It isn't too hot and spicy but the presence of the chilli does give it a nice kick, and the flavour and texture of chickpeas is perfect for soup.

Serves 4 - 6

8 oz chickpeas, soaked overnight in twice their volume of cold water
2 small red chillies, halved, de-seeded and chopped
1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
 ½ oz fresh coriander, leaves and stalks separated
1 level tablespoon cumin seeds
2 oz butter
6 fat cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 level teaspoon ground turmeric
Grated zest 1 lemon
2 - 3 tablespoons lemon juice
200 ml crème fraîche
Salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the garnish:
1 mild fat red or green chilli, de-seeded and cut into very fine hair-like shreds


First of all, drain the chickpeas in a colander, rinse them under the cold tap then place them in the saucepan with 2¾ pints of boiling unsalted water. Then bring them up to simmering point, put a lid on and cook them very gently for about 1 hour or until the chickpeas are absolutely tender and squashy.

While they're cooking, prepare the rest of the soup ingredients. The coriander and cumin seeds should be dry roasted in a small pre-heated pan for 2-3 minutes, then crushed in a pestle and mortar. After that, melt the butter in the pan, add the crushed spices along with the chopped garlic and chillies and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes. Now add the turmeric, stir and heat that gently before removing the pan from the heat.

As soon as the chickpeas are tender, drain them in a colander placed over a bowl to reserve the cooking water. Transfer the chickpeas to a liquidiser together with a couple of ladles of cooking water and purée them until fine and smooth. Now add the lemon zest, coriander stalks and spices from the pan along with another ladleful of cooking water and blend once more until fine and smooth.

Next, the whole lot needs to go back into the saucepan with the rest of the reserved cooking water. Bring it all up to a gentle simmer, give it a good stir, season, then simmer gently for a further 30 minutes. All this can be done in advance, then, when you're ready to serve the soup, re-heat very gently without letting it come to the boil. Stir in half the crème fraîche and the lemon juice, taste to check the seasoning, then serve in hot soup bowls with the rest of the crème fraîche swirled in.

Scatter with shredded chilli and coriander leaves as a garnish.


Serves 4

2 oz bread, cut into small cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 dessertspoon grated Parmesan


Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

Just place the cubes of bread in a bowl together with the oil, and stir them around so they get an even coating. Sprinkle in the Parmesan. Stir the cubes around to coat them well. Then arrange on a baking sheet.

Bake them on a high shelf in the oven for 10 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. One word of warning; do use a kitchen timer for this operation because it's actually very hard to bake something for just 10 minutes without forgetting all about it. I have baked more batches of charcoal-coloured croutons that I care to remember! Then allow to cool, and leave them on one side until the soup is ready or store them in a screw-top jar.

These recipes are taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Web Analytics