Saturday 17 April 2010

Honest soup inspired by a Farmers Market

Last weekend we went to Collingwood Children’s Farm Farmer’s Market. It is always full of interesting food and lively families. Sylvia loved watching the other kids. E was content to sit on a hay bale eating his farmer’s breakfast. I loved perusing the stalls in search of inspiration.

As usual, we were among the latecomers and I missed out on buying peaches, rhubarb and bread because I wanted a quick wander and a think before making any purchases. No’ fast, you’re last, as E likes to say.
Sylvia was also very helpful with tasting foods for me. Stall holders are less offended if a baby shows their dislike by opening her mouth and just letting the food fall out but I don’t think I could get away with it. Unfortunately babies are so fickle. Sylvia took an initial dislike to a seeded sourdough and on that basis I decided to buy an excellent fruit bread from the Hope Bakery instead. Once I had made the decision, she then couldn’t get enough of the samples of the seeded bread.

Sylvia also loved the cooked corn on the cob that is sold on a stick for snacking. Unfortunately by the time we got her beans on toast at the café, she was tired and then the heavens opened and we knew the rain was a sign that it was time to go home. I had a lovely fruit toast with cinnamon butter that I ate quickly. The remains of E’s brownie came with us wrapped in a napkin. Sylvia's beans were barely touched.
So much interesting food! I passed on the wonderfully-named heirloom tomatoes but bought sorrel but regret to say it only got used today (but it was excellent with some onions, potatoes, chickpeas, tomatoes and garlic over some cheese pancakes).. I found some heirloom rhubarb elsewhere after Di sold out of hers. I was excited by the angel hair pasta and decided it would be just the sort of thin pasta needed for a Chickpea and Spinach Soup recipe in An Honest Kitchen.
For those who are not familiar with this e-magazine, An Honest Kitchen is the brainchild of two bloggers that I love reading: nutritionist, Kathryn of Limes and Lycopene and amazing photographer, Lucy of Nourish Me. Both blogs are full of wise advice, lovely writing and great recipes. But I confess I don’t subscribe to An Honest Kitchen for a few reasons, the main ones being that I have so little time for reading online and when it comes to magazines I prefer a hard copy.

Nevertheless, when they announced a competition to photograph a dish from An Honest Kitchen, they were kind enough to extend the competition to those who don’t subscribe and those who don’t have a flickr account. Hey, I thought, what nice people to forgive me all my lack of subscriptions and let me participate anyway. I decided to join in, not with any expectation of winning, but because I really like Lucy and Kathryn and am much more comfortable with participation than subscriptions.
Well I went home from the farmers market with good food and good intentions. I had some kale and decided I would use it instead of spinach and then I just kept on going on tangents from the recipe til my dish was unrecognizable. It was terrible. I blame the kale that was past its best but the flavours didn’t quite work anyway.
The next day I tried to follow the recipe again. I didn’t quite managed to stick to it but it was very close. The spinach was far superior to the kale. The soup was excellent: simple, fresh, quick and full of magnificent flavour. Not as many vegetables as I usually would like but still substantial enough to make a meal and much quicker than many of my soups. I wondered if maybe I should subscribe to An Honest Kitchen after all.
I am sending Lucy and Kathryn the top photo but I am sorry to say it isn’t my finest moment in photography. As usual, I was too impatient to take many photos but I hope you can see how good it tastes. As for the rest of my food, I am out of time and will need to tell you about it later. Below is what I did with the soup.

Chickpea & spinach soup

Adapted from
An Honest Kitchen, Winter 2009/2010
Serves 2-3, as a meal
  • 120g angel hair pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 400g tin rinsed and drained chickpeas
  • 400g tin diced tomatoes
  • ½ bunch English spinach, roughly chopped (I think mine was about 150g)
  • cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
Heat a large saucepan on low heat. Add the olive oil and once that has warmed through, add the onions. Fry for about 5-10 minutes. While the onion are cooking boil the kettle. Break up the noodles into pieces about as long as your hand is wide. Pour the water over the noodles to soak while you attend to the rest of the soup.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and about 400ml water (ie fill the empty tomato tin with water and pour into saucepan to rinse out as much of the tomatoes as possible.) Turn the hotplate up to medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes (I think this is meant to be the opposite of a gentle simmer but I can’t find the words – robust simmer, powerful simmer, raucous simmer?) It doesn’t thicken, it just absorbs flavour.

When the tomato and chickpea soupy mixture is almost at the end of the sturdy simmer, drain the noodles. Add the drained noodles, spinach and most of the mint to the saucepan. Stir for about 2 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted and retains its bright green colour. Stir in the tamari and season to taste. Serve with some extra mint leaves as garnish.

Update May 2010: have found this works with broccoli added when I add the tomatoes and chickpeas and substituting soba noodles for the pasta.

Update: June 2017: made this with regular spaghetti so cooked it a little longer.  The sauce was thicker but delicious.  No mint about so used paprika, ginger powder, pepper and worcestershire sauce instead for seasoning.  I didn't add any greens into the soup but served them on the side.
On the stereo:
Blue: Joni Mitchell


  1. What a great photo of the tomato varieties on offer!

  2. It's actually quite a simple recipe, isn't it? I like the idea of mint, though - mint and tomato is not something I've come across very often.

    And I do like the look/sound of that cinnamon butter, as I'm on a bit of a cinnamon kick myself at the moment!

  3. That soup looks great, I am going to have to make it.

  4. The soups looks delish and I have the same problem with you about being impatient with taking photos.

  5. I wish I could find a nearby market to me that sold all of those heirloom varieties! Hopefully they'll become more common as they're just so much better than supermarket tomatoes!

  6. I could never pass on those heirlooms! Wow they look heavenly. And your soup ... I have spinach and kale that has got to be used today ...

  7. So glad you liked it - thanks for your entry.

    Those tomatoes look glorious - way better than the sum total of 4 heirlooms I managed grow this year!

  8. Thanks Ali-K - the tomatoes were so gorgeous but the green zebras were quite bitter - sylvia was not keen on either

    Thanks Hannah - it was a great way to use some mint (I always struggle for ideas for it) - as for the cinnamon butter it was amazing - at first I thought they had sliced banana on my toast because there was so much of it - too much for two slices of toast but very good

    Thanks Vicki - hope you enjoy

    Thanks Kristy - this soup was particularly steamy which made photos hard and I wasn't about to wait for it to cool

    Thanks Lorraine - I don't go to the collingwood farmers market often enough to know if they sell these every week but they do seem to have some good heirloom fruit and veg

    Thanks Tanna - hope the spinach and kale find their way into something interesting - like this soup

    Thanks Lucy - already thinking I must try this again because it was so good and quick - 4 heirloom tomatoes is impressive to me

  9. what a hearty looking soup, It's making me hungry and it's only breakfast time here!
    The tomatoes are amazing and I love that reading other people\s blogs opens your eyes to a whole other world of vegetable varieties. How would anyone be able to resist growing Green Zebras given half the chance?
    Off to find Joni Mitchell to listen to now while I finish my blog browsing. Thanks for the reminder of how ace she is.

  10. thanks Nic - glad I can give back a bit of the inspiration I am constantly finding on blogs - tomatoes named Stupice amused me - just too close to 'stupid' to be taken seriously!

  11. Hi there Johanna, lovely to hear you made and enjoyed the soup and thanks for sending in your photo. Support and enthusiasm, in whatever form is always gratefully received.

    While it might not seem like a big variety of vegetables, there's still 3plus serves per person, in the soup, so it's a good proportion of your daily five! Although I've been thinking some additional mushrooms and peas would also be good.

    Thanks again for your contribution Johanna.

  12. Oh, I was at the markets this weekend, mainly for breakfast and catching up with some friends, though. So we didn't get much in the way of fruit and veg. :)

  13. That does sound like a quick and hearty soup--and I thought your photo was lovely! I think I'd even like it with kale, one of my favorite greens. And how funny about Sylvia deciding to like the seeded bread after you bought another--sounds like my HH! ;)

  14. thanks Kathryn - I thought peas might be a good addition too - hope to try this soup again and experiment a little - nice to hear a nutritionist take on the amount of vegies too - I feel it is a nice balance of vegetables in the soup even if quite different to my usual combinations

    Thanks Scarabee - always feel too disorganised to get as much fruit and veg as i intend - hope your breakfast was more leisurely than our lunch

    Thanks Ricki - I'd like to try this soup again with a good fresh kale - and I am sure E would be as fickle as sylvia if given the chance - he was too busy with his farmer's breakfast to be tasting breads!

  15. Ooo that soup looks delicious! I love noodles in soup. The farmer's market looks full of delicious stuff. I'd find it hard to resist scooping up a bunch of those tomatoes!


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)