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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Nancy Birtwhistle

One can of chickpeas, two recipes: Nancy Birtwhistle’s budget midweek meal

Nancy Birtwhistle's chunky chickpea soup.
Nancy Birtwhistle’s chunky chickpea soup. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Hanna Miller. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food styling assistant: Isobel Clarke.

This colourful, satisfying soup is great for those wanting to cut down on their meat intake, and ticks the gluten- and dairy-free boxes, too. It can be cooked on the hob, or in the oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker. Save the liquid from the tin of chickpeas and whip it up into a deliciously light chocolate mousse for afters.

Chunky soup

Save all of the vegetable peelings and trimmings, and use them to make the flavourful stock.

Prep 15 min
Soak 12 hr
Cook 1 hr 30 min+ (depending on cooking method)
Serves 4-6

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions
, peeled and chopped small
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 tbsp mixed dried herbs, or 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs
Salt and black pepper
800g mixed vegetables (eg carrots, sweet potato, leeks, potatoes), all cut into 2cm dice
½ tsp chilli powder, or 1 tsp hot chilli sauce or 1 medium fresh chilli (green or red), finely chopped
100g dried lentils, beans and/or pulses (puy lentils, red lentils, green lentils, yellow split peas, green split peas), soaked in 300ml cold water for 12 hours, then drained
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and liquid reserved for the chocolate mousse below
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes, or passata
800ml vegetable stock (see method)
185g frozen peas

First, make the stock. Put all the vegetable peelings and trimmings, including the onion skins, any parsley stalks and the garlic skins, in a large, microwave-proof bowl, pour on 800ml boiling water, cover, microwave for 10 minutes on high, then set aside.

In a large pan, pressure cooker or ovenproof casserole, heat the oil, then fry the onion and garlic on a low heat for five to 10 minutes, until they start to soften. Stir in the celery and herbs, a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes, to soften. Add all the diced mixed vegetables, turn the heat to high and fry, stirring regularly, until they start to catch and colour at the edges.

Add the chilli and the drained lentils and chickpeas, then stir in the tomatoes and stock. To cook in the oven, cover with a well-fitting lid and bake at 220C (200C fan)/475F/gas 9 for about an hour, or until the vegetables are tender and the pulses have absorbed much of the liquid and thickened the soup. If using a slow cooker, cook for five to six hours, until the vegetables are tender and the soup has thickened; for a pressure cooker, cook on high for 20 minutes; on the hob, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then stir through the peas until cooked, and serve in warmed bowls.

Chocolate mousse

Nancy Birtwhistle’s chocolate mousse
Nancy Birtwhistle’s chocolate mousse. Photograph: Yuki Sugiura/The Guardian. Food styling: Hanna Miller. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. Food assistant: Isobel Clarke.

You will need four or five ramekins, or similar, in which to set the mousse.

Prep 5 min
Cook 15 min
Chill 1 hr+
Serves 4-5

Strained liquid from 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, about 180ml (see previous recipe)
½ tsp cream of tartar
icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
dark chocolate (or milk, white or vegan), broken into small pieces
Sprinkles, to decorate

Put the reserved chickpea water in a bowl, add the cream of tartar and whisk, ideally with a hand-held electric whisk, until light, white and standing in soft peaks (much as egg whites would). Add the icing sugar in two parts, whisking well between each addition, then whisk in the vanilla.

Put the chocolate in a microwave-proof bowl, then microwave on high in two 30-second bursts, until it’s fully melted; stir to help it along.

Stir a spoonful of the mousse mix into the melted chocolate to loosen it, then pour the lot into the mousse bowl and whisk to combine.

Divide the mix between ramekins, small bowls or serving glasses, then tap each one on a work surface to smooth them out and release any air pockets. Top with a few sprinkles to decorate, then chill for an hour or two, until fully set.

  • Nancy Birtwhistle is the author of The Green Gardening Handbook: Grow, Eat and Enjoy, published by One Boat at £14.99. To order a copy for £13.19, go to

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