Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick Chickpea Soup & (souper)Stardom

UKTV Food is - rather obviously - a satellite channel linked to an extensive website devoted to the joys of food. Lots of chefs and stories and recipes and a mix of old shows and newly commisoned programmes. Their flagship programme is Market Kitchen which goes out weekdays with an interesting mix of seasonal recipes, clever tricks and a starry array of chefs from all over, cooking and chatting with the regular hosts like Matthew Fort and Tom Parker-Bowles. There's a segment shot in Borough Market using some of their lovely produce to make great meals. For those who've yet to experience the delight that is Borough you can at least see it here in all it's glory. It's all shot in front of an audience at tables who get to sample the food as it is made - and be on the tv at the same time.

They are having a competition this month to find a new presenter - surely a gift to those of us who want to spread the joy of food. It simply involves doing a short clip - up to a minute - telling of your love of food and posting it on YouTube. Check out the full details here. The winner gets their very own Market Kitchen feature, filmed at Borough Market, and a cookery course and stay at Rick Stein's Seafood school with accommodation included. Got to be worth a shot!

One of the judges will be Rachel Allen who cooks dishes in her kitchen in Ireland that are broadcast on the show. Last week she made this quick soup with chickpeas and tinned tomatoes, flavoured with cumin. I liked the look of it, so made a version of it last night for an easy Sunday supper. She served it with chili pitta chips - since I topped mine with chilli and garlic oil, we had thick slices of light swiss rye on the side.

Quick Chickpea Soup

3 tbsp olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 1/2 tsp freshly ground toasted cumin - toast the seeds till fragrant then grind in a pestle
pinch sugar
400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
300ml vegetable or light chicken stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 lemon, juice only
2 tbsp parsley, leaves and stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tspn chilli flakes
2 tbspns olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the celery, onion and some salt and pepper. Turn down to a low heat, cover the pan with the lid and cook the vegetables until soft but not coloured, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin and cook for another minute, then pour in the tomatoes and all their juices along with the sugar. Add the chickpeas and the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes then, with a stick blender, process about a third of the soup to thicken it. Add the lemon juice. Check the seasoning to taste.

In a small pan heat the olive oil and add the parsley, garlic and chilli. Cook over a gentle heat till the garlic is translucent and all is fragrant.

Serve the soup in deep bowls and swirl the spiced oil across the top.

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