It’s the first day of winter, so to mark the occasion I’m posting a soup recipe. The Bureau of Meteorology warns that we are about to welcome the changing of the seasons with a cold snap and some of the coolest temperatures of the year so far. For Sydney that means lows of 3 or 4 C and highs of about 16 or 17 C. Positively balmy for some parts of the world, I know…but, it’s cold for us. A welcome change after a long Indian summer of sweltering humidity.
Enough about the weather, and onto the soup. The stars of this show are really the chickpeas, with the soup providing an all important supporting act to showcase their versatility. On feast days I could eat them by the bucketload. Deep and golden with a satisfying crunch. If the truth be known I rarely bake them just by one tinful. Usually it’s two tins per tray, and two trays into a hot oven simultaneously for 40 minutes or so. However, this being a 5-2 fast day, I’m scaling down. One tin it is – to avoid any loss of focus and mindless sampling.
Velvety and a bright vibrant green, the broccoli soup is rich and creamy, yet completely dairy free. It’s delicious and fresh, on any other occasion it would be a standout in it’s own right. In this post, however, it provides the perfect foil for my spicy, crispy oven roasted chickpeas. Here’s where the calorie counting gets interesting. Whilst a generous bowl of soup topped with a mound of chickpeas comes in at just 181 calories per serve, half those calories are accounted for by those moreish, crispy croutons.
Now you understand there’s method in my madness and the very reason why I roasted just one tin. There’s a little over 500 calories alone in one tin’s worth of those crisp and crunchy morsels. Or put in 5-2 terms a whole fast day’s calorie allocation. Looking on the brighter side, to balance everything out there’s just 50 calories per cup of broccoli soup without any crispy accompaniment. At the end of the day you choose. Both elements are delicious on their own. Together, they pack a powerful flavour punch – something to definitely brighten a cold and miserable winter’s day.
Creamy Broccoli Soup With Crispy Oven Roasted Chickpeas
Serves 6 (181 calories per generous bowlful)
For the Broccoli Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
1 medium onion, finely diced (30 calories)
2 cloves garlic, finely diced (8 calories)
3 medium heads broccoli, stalks and florets separated (204 calories)
2 medium desiree potatoes, peeled and diced (300 calories)
2 ribs celery, diced (17 calories)
2 sprigs thyme (1 calorie)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (120 calories)
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
For the Roasted Chickpeas
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained weight 240g (394 calories)
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (4 calories)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (4 calories)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1 calorie)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
To Prepare the Soup
HEAT oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic with a good pinch of salt until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
SEPARATE broccoli into florets and stalks.
TRIM away any tough or woody outer layers from each stalk, dice tender stalks.set florets aside.
ADD diced broccoli stalks, celery and potatoes to the saucepan. Increase heat to high, and cook, stirring for a further 5 minutes or so, until the potato begins to soften a little.
ADD the stock and thyme. Bring the saucepan to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes until potato is almost cooked through.
ADD broccoli florets, cook until broccoli is tender and bright green, about 10 minutes.
REMOVE from heat. Discard thyme and set aside for a few minutes to cool a little.
PUREE soup in batches in the jug of a blender or in the pot with a hand-held immersion stick blender.
REHEAT soup just before serving. Check seasoning, adding a little more sea salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into serving bowls. Serve immediately with a generous garnish of crispy oven roasted chickpeas.
To Roast the Chickpeas
PREHEAT oven to 180 C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
DRAIN chickpeas into a large mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse under cold water to remove all traces of the starchy water they were packaged in.
TRANSFER chickpeas to a paper towel lined bowl. Pat dry, removing any errant loose papery skins.
REMOVE the paper towels. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices and sea salt, tossing until well coated.
SPREAD chickpeas in an even layer over the prepared oven tray.
BAKE in hot oven for about 30 – 40 minutes until the chickpeas are a deep golden brown and crunchy. Shake the tray every now and then whilst roasting to redistribute the chickpeas. This helps ensure they roast evenly and do not burn. Remove from oven to cool.