March is a funny one. The warmer weather means that I don’t feel the need for rib-sticking stews and mashed potato quite so heavily, but it’s hardly salad weather either. This is why I decided to make this soup – an late winter/early spring version of this sunny courgette and chickpea soup.
Instead of courgette, I used spinach. Not the expensive sort you get in a bag, but the sturdier stuff you can often get at markets with the stalks still attached. They’re a little too tough for salads, but perfect for cooking. I skipped the mint and used split peas instead of chickpeas; they take a little longer to cook, but make the soup heartier and more filling. A little yoghurt for creaminess and some fried mushrooms for texture.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chillies, chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
250g split peas
small bunch of coriander
about 150g spinach (or spring greens)
750ml vegetable stock (from bouillon powder is fine)
handful mushrooms, sliced
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger for 5 minutes, or until everything is softened.
- Stir in the split peas and fry for a minute or so. Pour over the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the peas are really soft. (Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.)
- While the peas are cooking, slice the coriander stalks and add them to the pan.
- Remove the stalks from the spinach and wash thoroughly.
- Once the peas are soft, turn up the heat and carefully push the spinach into the saucepan, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t submerged in the water. Put the lid on and leave to cook for a few minutes.
- Once wilted, stir the spinach into the soup with the coriander leaves. Blend until smooth.
- Add lemon juice, to taste. It doesn’t need much, just enough to brighten the flavours and freshen everythingup.
- Heat a frying pan and fry the mushrooms for a few minutes until browned. (I don’t bother adding oil as they will greedily slurp it up anyway, leaving the pan dry.) Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the soup with a dollop of yoghurt and some fried mushrooms.