Thickened with chickpeas and packed with flavours reminiscent of Indian cuisine, this recipe for Spiced Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup will do its best to kick start your metabolism and help your body claw back some of those precious nutrients lost to the festive season. I don’t know about you, but all that has seemed to pass my lips over the past two weeks has been chocolate (primarily) and meat. As someone who is usually relatively healthy this now has me craving vegetables of any sort and there can be no finer way to achieve that than with this warming soup.
Though potato is the ingredient one might usually use to thicken a soup, its starchy nature can often convey a heavy, almost gloopy nature. While this is sometimes appropriate, this is one case in which it is best to go in entirely the opposite direction. Indeed, a very light soup is often preferable and it seems that this is the case particularly where spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric are involved. Chickpeas achieve this feat admirably and while the attractive little pulses are not as effective as potatoes in thickening a soup, they do keep things light while adding a dash of protein for good measure.
This recipe for Spiced Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup has a very intense flavour, with plenty of hot chilli. However, if you’d like to tone things down a notch there’s no shame in halving the amount of red chilli and adding a tin of coconut milk. In fact, I’ve often found that coconut milk or even full fat yoghurt works extremely well with ingredients like butternut squash as it is a fruit that rather suits a creamy texture.
Spiced Butternut Squash and Chickpea Soup
• 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp oil
• 2 carrots, roughly chopped
• ½ a large butternut squash, roughly chopped
• A large knob of fresh ginger, minced
• 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp coriander seeds
• 1 tsp ground turmeric
• 2 tsp red chilli flakes
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 1 litre of vegetable stock
• 1 tin of chickpeas, or equivalent dried
• 1 tsp salt
1. First, roast your chunks of butternut squash – skin on – at 180C until golden brown and soft. Meanwhile, fry the onions, carrots, garlic and ginger in the oil for 10 minutes.
2. While the vegetables are cooking gently toast your whole spices before grinding them to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar. Now, add all of the spices and the cooked squash to the saucepan and cook for a further 5 minutes.
3. Top the saucepan up with all of the vegetable stock and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. At this point tip in the chickpeas and cook for a further 5 minutes before blending until smooth (you can adjust the consistency by adding more/less stock).
4. Season to taste and serve immediately with yoghurt or an extra sprinkling of chilli flakes.
Cost: Vegan soups like this, bulked out with carrots and onion, never cost very much. Indeed, this hearty and warming soup should set you back no more than around £1.80!