Is your tummy (or heart) in need of a satisfying, wholesome, veggie-dense, comfort-food lunch? Look no further than this rustic vegetable soup with chard and chickpeas. Sprinkled with parsley and parmesan, and served with a slice or two of dense multigrain bread, this is a meal-in-a-bowl that cultivates happiness and full bellies.
To say this soup is adaptable is a huge understatement. It’s basically my clean-out-the-fridge project. This time, I had a couple of cups of shredded cabbage leftover from a slaw – tossed it in. A 4-inch stub of zucchini? In it went. Feel free to use white beans or lentils instead of chickpeas, or even leftover chicken, shredded, in lieu of legumes.
Sometimes I even just use water instead of stock, but in that case you want to let it hang out a bit longer with the mirepoix for good flavour, simmering for maybe 30 minutes at least before adding the pasta, etc.
With vegetable soups especially, the key to tastiness is proper seasoning. I feel like I sound like a broken record on this topic, but as someone who made one too many a massive pot of nasty soup in her learning-to-cook days, I can attest to the tremendous difference a generous pinch of salt can make. If it’s adequately salty but still a bit lacklustre, a squeeze of lemon usually does the trick.
In springtime, the increased light and longer days makes me feel lighter at heart, and I crave lightness in my meals, too. This effect is exaggerated by the fact that I’ve now got baby occupying the space where stomach used to live (and happily expand to accomodate large lunches). This is one light meal that also sticks to your ribs. Yum yum.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1½ cups diced tomatoes (from half of a 28 oz can)
- 1 quart/litre vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh, minced)
- 1 cup small pasta
- 1 can chickpeas, drained (or about 2 cups cooked chickpeas)
- 1 bunch swiss chard, stems and leaves separated, chopped
- salt, to taste
- ⅛ tsp cracked black pepper
- generous pinch red chili flakes, plus more for serving (optional)
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley, plus more for serving (optional)
- freshly grated parmesan for serving (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and saute until softened, but not browned (reduce heat if they start browning), about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste, then add diced tomatoes, stock and dried oregano. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in pasta, chickpeas and swiss chard stems; simmer until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Add swiss chard leaves, and stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste. Stir in parsley just before serving, and top individual bowls with more parsley, chili flakes and parmesan, if desired.