Sunday, 18 January 2009

Ballymaloe's Spiced Chickpea Soup

Every time I visit my friend Kate in Dublin I spend a good portion of my time poring over her copy of the Ballymaloe Cookery Course. Not that she's boring or bad company, and not because I'm trying to avoid talking to her - quite the contrary - it's just such a beautiful and interesting book that I find it hard to tear myself away. It even makes great bedtime reading, fuelling my dreams with images of briny oysters, pretty salads and perfect biscuits. It's an inspiring read, and the cook school that bears its name is firmly on my list of foodie places to visit one day - along with El Bulli, The French Laundry, The Fat Duck ... the list, predictably, goes on and on.

It is probably one of my favourite cookery books of all time, which is why I was so delighted to be given a copy of it as a birthday gift by my lovely friend Kay, and why I was so impatient to get into the kitchen and get cooking. Here's what I decided upon first...

Spiced Chickpea Soup with Coriander Cream & Pitta Crisps
Serves 6

2 cans chickpeas, drained
800ml vegetable stock
3 tsps coriander seeds
3 tsps cumin seeds
50g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 small red chillies, deseeded and chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
75ml cream
salt and ground pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Dry-roast cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat for 2-3 mins, then crush in pestle & mortar or spice grinder.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan, then fry the onion, chillies, garlic and spices gently for 4-5 mins. Add the turmeric and cook for another minute.
3. Remove from the heat, add the chickpeas and mix well. Season.
4. Add the stock and cream, and liquidise all together until smooth.
5. Gently heat the soup, then sharpen with lemon juice and serve with chopped coriander leaves, a swirl of cream and some toasted pitta pieces.

Smooth, creamy, warm with spices, this is like a pureed channa masala - a delight.

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