In times of stress, it is important to boost your immune system with healthy nourishing food. As winter approaches with its usual bevy of illnesses, it is good practice to do the same. I love to use turmeric at these times – other great spices that keep you healthy include powdered ginger and fresh garlic.
This soup came together one morning when I felt a strong need to nourish myself. It is tasty and the greatest ever welcome to the cold weather.
A couple of notes on the recipe. I used a soup base made by cooking green mung beans with some earthy, grounding spices until the beans were quite mushy. It is a trick I use a lot – most often I use mung beans, mung dal or toor dal. So healthy too.
I have included some Indian ingredients in the recipe – for example asafoetida. They are easily available at Indian shops.
Angostura Bitters and some acid – lemon juice or vinegar, or even a little tamarind or amchur – are great additions to liven and freshen the flavours of any soup. It counteracts any muddiness that comes from longer cooking. Add lemon or vinegar at the end of cooking. The others can be added during the cooking process. Angostura Bitters can be found in supermarkets and bottle shops.
Rustic Potato and Chickpea Soup with Greens and Tahini
2 Tblspn olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 tspn cumin powder
2 tspn coriander powder
pinch or two of asafoetida (optional)
1.2l vegetarian stock (see below)
350g tiny potatoes, unpeeled and cut into quarters (or use larger ones and cut into similar small size pieces)
425g chickpeas, drained (cooked or use a canned chickpeas)
200g spinach or other greens – chard, amaranth leaves, chilli leaves, etc, or a combination of greens
Indian chilli powder, cayenne pepper or curry powder
sea salt and black pepper
2 Tblspn light tahini
150ml double cream
0.5 Tblspn cornflour
dash Angostura bitters (optional)
1 tspn light coloured vinegar – rice vinegar, palm vinegar etc – or use a good squeeze of lemon juice
0.5 cup green mung beans
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
2 bay leaves
2 brown cardamom pods
Use any stock that you have on hand. Or use this method to make a nutritious and tasty base for the soup. Cook the mung beans in water to cover well, for about 20 mins. Add the turmeric powder, bay leaves and brown cardamom pods with a little salt to taste and continue to cook for another 20 mins until the mung beans are falling apart. Remove the cardamom pods and bay leaves and use in place of stock (if too thick, thin with water).
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is softened and golden brown. Add the cumin and coriander with the asafoetida if using, and stir quickly to toast the spices. Add the stock and potatoes.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 5 – 10 more minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Add the greens and simmer gently while preparing the tahini.
Blend together the tahini, cream and cornflour – mix with a little of the warm soup so that the tahini melts into the liquid. Pour gently into the soup and mix through. Simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add salt, pepper and cayenne/chilli powder/curry powder to taste. Simmer for another 2 minutes, taste again and adjust as necessary.
Add a little vinegar or lemon juice and optionally a splash of bitters, stir and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
Chopped herbs can be added when serving.