Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and Mushrooms

When it comes to social media, I have two favourites: Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook for keeping up with friends and following (mainly cooking) blogs and pages, Pinterest because it allows you to save and categorise recipes you find online with a few simple clicks. But that ease can also have drawbacks, as I sometimes pin dishes that look good but disappoint when I actually read the whole recipe.

Which is what happened this week, when I got ready to cook a promising-looking chickpea soup from one of my boards and then realised that the flavours clashed (even just on paper), the cooking method didn’t work for me… in short that I would cook an entirely different soup. So that is what I did, with mainly store cupboard ingredients. I hope you like it.

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp coarse sea salt, or to taste
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
250 ml coconut milk
1 cup/140 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered till tender, about an hour and 15 minutes, depending on how ‘fresh’ they are. Don’t add salt. (Cooked weight about 290 g, you could use the same amount of tinned chickpeas)
200 g mushrooms, quartered
generous squeeze of lemon juice
fresh coriander, chopped

– Cook your soaked chickpeas (unless you’re using tinned ones, of course).
– Heat a generous glug of oil in a medium-sized pot on a medium heat. When nice and hot, add cumin seeds, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Stir for a few seconds, then add the onion and cook until soft.
– Turn the heat down, stir in garlic, ground spices and salt, fry and stir for about 30 seconds.
– Add coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and mushrooms.
– Bring to the boil, then simmer (I use a flame diffuser) for 15 minutes.
– Add lemon juice and more salt if needed.
– Serve, sprinkled with the coriander.


Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup with Harissa Broth

img_2445-1Now you could make this soup any time of the year with any vegetables you like, but I think it is a perfect autumn and winter dish. The kale – omnipresent at this time of year in the Netherlands – the warmth of the harissa, and the stick-to-the-ribs heartiness of this soup seem to be made for shorter days and lower temperatures.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for this gorgeous soup; I was given the recipe by my lovely friend Dawn. Apart from some tweaks (I can’t help myself, but I suppose making dishes your own is what cooking is all about), this is basically her original recipe.

I’ve made this soup several times and I know it will be a staple in the Veg Chop household for many years to come.  It is a very adaptable recipe, so be creative and add or leave out whatever you like: use carrot or more onion instead of the celery, sub the kale with spinach, add mushrooms or cubed pumpkin or even potato. And you could of course use tinned beans instead of ones you’ve soaked and cooked yourself, but the bean broth does add a lovely depth of flavour.

200 g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 1/2 litre (1500 ml, 15 dl) water
1 onion,  chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps tomato purée
1 or 2 tbsps harissa paste, depending on how hot you like it and on your harissa.
150 g kale, finely chopped
1 to 2 tsps of powdered vegetable stock (optional, and depending on preference and saltiness of the bean broth and the stock powder).
2 to 3 tbsps lemon juice, to taste. Go easy at first, you can always add more later.

– Drain the soaked beans, rinse and put them in a large pot with the water. Bring to the boil (don’t add salt at this stage), then simmer, lid on. I use a flame diffuser here, but if you don’t have one and you’re worried about the pan boiling over with the lid on it, put the lid on askew but start out with an extra 250 ml of water.
– Cook until very soft (an hour and 10 minutes when I cooked it this time, but it depends on soaking time and the beans themselves). Liberally salt towards the end of the cooking time. Set aside.
– Sauté the onion and celery until golden.
– Add garlic, tomato purée and harissa, sauté for a few minutes more.
– Add the kale, beans and their broth, and stock powder (if using).
– Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
– Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.