Recipes, Recipes - Starters

Chick Pea Soup with Chard

About this recipe:  Chard is such a brilliant vegetable, easy to grow and it just keeps going through the winter so you always have some fresh greens.  It comes in rainbow colours too – red (Rhubarb chard), yellow, white (Swiss chard).  Just pick fresh leaves off the plant and let it grow some more.  Chick peas are a bit trickier, but some of our plotholders are growing them successfully.  If you don’t grow them, tins of cooked ones are easy to find or you can soak dried ones.   This recipe’s ingredients are traditional for Tuscany in Italy, and you can grow most of the fresh items in the UK.    It’s very adaptable so make your own version – add rice instead of macaroni or leave it out altogether, make it hotter with your own favourite spices.  

Serves 4 for a meal


  • 6 cups drained and rinsed cooked chickpeas
  • 3 cups (700 ml) chicken or vegetable stock, more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch dried red-pepper flakes (or some fresh chilli)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes in thick puree, chopped OR 3-4 fresh tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • ½ cup small macaroni (or rice, or omit)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 good handfuls of chard, base of stems removed, leaves cut into small pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

How to Make It

  1. Puree half of the cooked chickpeas with 1½ cups of the stock in a blender or food processor. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining  1½ cups stock, the pureed chickpeas, whole chickpeas, bay leaf, red-pepper flakes, tomatoes, macaroni (or rice), and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the chard to the pot. Simmer until the chard is tender and the pasta is done, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. Stir in the black pepper. If the soup thickens too much on standing, stir in more broth or water.
  4. Serve

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