Monday, 13 May 2013

Slightly Spicy Mushroom Chard & Chickpea soup

So today didn't get off to a hugely auspicious start, what with being woken at 4.30 to the dulcet tones of Blue throwing up. Never a good way to start the day, let alone the week. I was supposed to be having a 5:2 fasting day, but due to excessive amounts of partying at the weekend (well, excessive for us - 2 dinner parties - practically unheard of social activity for us these days) I was still feeling slightly jaded (shall we say) and not in the mood to face a pink grapefruit, or to forgo milk in my coffee.

Bearing that in mind, for our first 'Fresh Week' breakfast, Pink and I had porridge with stewed rhubarb from the garden.

Blue had some Diaorolyte and the Husband absolved himself from involvement in Fresh Week due to the impending trip, and finished the Weetabix. Not such a hot start, then.

I'd misunderstood when the Husband was leaving for his jaunt to the desert too (he leaves this evening, after tea time), and Pink then decided she didn't want to go on her usual post-school arrangement because Blue wasn't going and the Husband would still be home (understandable really). The usual sort of non-serious muddle that I often find myself in. More importantly, I ended up from planning to feed only myself this evening, to having to find food for all of us.

Cue extraction of a handy shepherds pie from the freezer I made a couple of weeks ago with the leftovers from Blue's 'last meal'. It isn't yet topped with mash, and I used the last of the potatoes up yesterday, so it will be swede and carrot mash. The freezer really is your friend if you want to cook more from scratch. Make things like shepherds pie in bulk and freeze in portion sizes. It might seem like a stress, but it's really not.

Given that everything seems to have spiralled from order to chaos in a matter of moments (does this happen to anyone else? It seems to happen to me frequently), I decided I needed a decent lunch and turned to the last of the veg box and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for inspiration.

I love chard, and I had a bag of ruby chard - dark green leaves, pinky red stems.

I don't know if you can buy it in supermarkets - we usually grow it so I never look for it, although there's none in the garden ready yet. Swiss chard with white stems, 'bright lights' with orange and yellow stems, ruby chard as from the box. I'd be lying, though, if I said my kids love it - or frankly, that they even tolerate it, with its earthy taste - so this was always (happily) destined for me.

This soup is inspired by one in Veg Everyday "Chickpea, Chard and Porcini soup", but as ever I adapted it to suit what I had - fresh mushrooms rather than dried porcini, and where Hugh uses rosemary, I wanted something a bit more robust so reached for the harissa paste for a chilli kick. You could add more as well - mine was quite subtle.

Slightly Spicy Mushroom Chard & Chickpea soup

rapeseed oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic. crushed
1-2 tsp harissa paste
400g chard or spinach, leaves and stalks separated, stalks finely chopped, leaves shredded
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
400g tin chopped tomatoes (Fresh Week or not, these will always be in my store cupboard!)
400g tin of chickpeas
500ml vegetable stock (yes, you could make your own from scratch but I used Marigold veg stock powder)
Salt & pepper

Heat a tablespoon or so of rapeseed oil in a large pan and sweat the onions for 10-15 minutes along with the garlic. Chuck in the chopped chard stalks

and the harissa paste for the last 5 minutes, then add in the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, chick peas and stock, and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or so before adding the chard leaves, and simmering for 5-7 minutes till the leaves have cooked down.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

I've taken the Tefal Fresh Week challenge to cook fresh food every day from 13th-19th May. You can still join me and make the pledge for a chance to win a Fresh Express Max and a Riverford Organic Veg box. You can read more about that here, where you can also find out how to sign up yourself.


  1. What lovely colourful cheerful photos! I always think the chard stalks are so pretty!

  2. Your week can only get better! You have inspired me to have rhubarb on my oats tomorrow xx

  3. Such a lovely colouful veg! That soup looks great too! Hope Blue is on the mend...

    1. he was fine by yesterday lunchtime - but school require 48 hrs before he goes back to school. Tomorrow morning, he's back!

  4. Hopefully your week will improve, best laid plans always so astray... chin up


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