North African Style Chickpea Soup

North African Chickpea Soup
North African Chickpea Soup with Sundried Tomato and Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought for Food

Carrying on with the health kick I made a soup that definitely hits the mark on all counts, a tasty filling and healthy soup that weighs in at a lowly 150kcal (approx) per portion! Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s worth taking the time to skin the baby broad beans, as the soup looks and tastes nicer without the white sheaf that surrounds each green bean

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Harissa
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 100g frozen baby broad beans, skinned
  • zest and juice ½ lemon

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, celery and the carrot. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the cumin,  garlic, harissa and tomato puree and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Turn up the heat, then add the stock, tomatoes and chickpeas, plus a good grind of black pepper.
  5. Simmer for 8 mins.
  6. Then throw in the broad beans and add the lemon juice,
  7. Cook for a further 2 mins.
  8. Season to taste, then top with a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Serve with a hunk of home made bread like my Sun dried Tomato and Olive or Roasted Fennel and Olive and enjoy…

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread
Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought for Food

This is a variant of the Roast Fennel and Olive bread, I wanted to try and get some more Mediterranean flavours in, the recipe was a trial run and didn’t come out too badly. I’m going to try adding some sundried tomato puree to the water next time and maybe some roasted garlic. The basic recipe is listed

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 smaller ones

Ingredients

  • 700 g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7 g sachet dried active yeast
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 tsp olive oil from the sun dried tomatoes
  • 75 g Sun Dried tomatoes (in oil), drained,  roughly chopped and dried in kitchen towel,  dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough
  • 150g quartered Kalamata Olives, drained and dried in kitchen towel, as with the tomatoes, dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough
  • 1 tsp Zatar (optional)

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and yeast with the herbs and 1 tbsp of the oil and 425ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix to a soft dough, then transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Knead in the olives and tomatoes until evenly distributed.
  4. Place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead again briefly.
  6. Shape into a sausage shape about 32cm long, slash the top a few times with a sharp knife and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  7. Drizzle over the rest of the oil. Cover with a tea towel again and leave to rise for 20 minutes.
  8. Scatter the Zatar and a little flaked sea salt over the top.
  9. Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes or a bit longer if your mixture is a tad dense It should have risen and be golden and also sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Cool on a wire rack before slicing, serve with a bowl of hearty and warming soup like  my Bacon and Lentil or North African Chickpea

Roasted Fennel and Olive Bread

Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought For Food

I am currently really excited by the thought of making my own bread, by hand not with a bread machine. I regularly make Irish Soda Bread and a variant using cheese but wanted to try something completely different. I found a recipe for a roasted fennel seed bread online which just seemed a bit plain, so I jazzed it up with some olives.

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 700 g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7 g sachet dried active yeast
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 7 tbsp quartered Kalamata Olives, drained and dried in kitchen towel, dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and yeast with half the fennel seeds, 1 tbsp of the oil and 425ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix to a soft dough, then transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Knead in the olives until evenly distributed.
  4. Place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead again briefly.
  6. Shape into a sausage shape about 32cm long, slash the top a few times with a sharp knife and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Scatter the rest of the fennel seeds and a little flaked sea salt over the top.
  7. Drizzle over the rest of the oil. Cover with a tea towel again and leave to rise for 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes or a bit longer if your mixture is a tad dense It should have risen and be golden and also sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Cool on a wire rack before slicing and buttering, Serve with a hearty soup like my Bacon and Lentil soup

Bacon and Lentil Soup

Lentil Bacon Soup with Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
Lentil Bacon Soup with Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought For Food

As January passes into  February and the weather stays we and wild down in the south east of England, my soon to be wife (Kim) and I started a bit of a health kick.  We both trying to eat less fat, more pulses and vegetables,  and soup seems the obvious choice for lunch, homemade of course! I quick check through the cupboards  and fridge, last weekend, led me to this recipe. It’s worth finely dicing the vegetables in this recipe as it gives the finished soup a better finished result.

A quick calculation of the caloric values of the ingredients suggests that it should be around 500kcals per portion

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 x 70g packs pancetta
  • 1 medium carrot (about 120g), finely diced
  • 1 stick of celery, finely diced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, sliced
  • 1.25 litres of fresh Chicken or Vegetable stock or 2 good  gluten free stock cubes in 1.25 litres of boiling water
  • 250g red lentils, rinsed

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 1 pack of pancetta and cook until the fat starts to run,
  2. Add the onion, celery and the carrot. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the cumin, turmeric, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Pour in the stock and add the lentils.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally to ensure the lentils aren’t sticking.
  6. Meanwhile, fry the remaining pack of pancetta in a small frying pan for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy. You don’t need to add any oil as plenty will run from the pancetta.
  7. Sprinkle of crispy lardons on top of the soup after serving.

Sit back and enjoy with a few slices of fresh crusty Roasted Fennel and Olive Bread or Irish Soda Bread

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently