Monday, May 14, 2012

Watercress & chickpea soup
with rosewater & ras el hanout

May 10, 2012

We've been eating out a ridiculous amount lately, so we had two problems: 1) our veggie box produce was starting to turn, and 2) we needed to eat something healthy. Typically Ottolenghi had the answer to both our problems: a watercress and chickpea soup that was about as healthy as you can imagine.

It's a pretty simple recipe, maybe half an hour of fiddling about. The soup itself isn't ridiculously flavourful - it's basically blended up greens with a bit of stock and a dash of sweetness peaking through from rosewater and sugar. The whole package is made by the topping though - roasted spiced carrot and chickpeas. We had just enough ras el hanout lying around (from five years ago!) to make this and I'm glad we did. It's a fantastic combination of sweetness and spice and really made the soup pop. I just wanted to eat bowlfuls of the carrot and chickpea mix. So good - we now need to find a new batch of ras el hanout so we can put this into our regular winter rotation.

Watercress & chickpea soup with rosewater & ras el hanout
(based on this recipe from Ottolegnhi's Guardian column)

1 large carrot, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ras el hanout
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 x 410g can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 small onions, sliced finely
600ml Massel 'chicken' stock
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced finely
220g watercress, stems trimmed off
100g baby spinach leaves
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater

Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Stir together the carrot pieces with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the ras el hanout, the cinnamon and a generous sprinkle of salt. Spread them on a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and then add half of the chickpeas, stirring to get them a bit coated in the spicy oil. Pop the tray back in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, get a large saucepan (or frying pan) on low heat with the rest of the olive oil and sauté the onion and ginger for 10 minutes or so, until everything is nice and soft. Add the greens, leftover chickpeas, stock, sugar and a pinch of salt and bring the mix to the boil. 

Kill the heat after a minute or two and let it cool a bit before whizzing it all up in a blender or with a stick blender. Add in the rosewater, taste for seasoning and add salt if required. Serve the soup up with a few spoonfuls of the insanely delicious chickpea/carrot mix on top. Enjoy!


  1. Damned beautiful looking soup that one. I've completely missed this recipe, but love the idea of the spicy topping. I've bookmarked and am now hoping for some watercress in my vegetable box *very* soon.

    1. Kathryn - yep, the spicy topping is terrific! I can imagine making something similar for many other homogeneous soups, or even a risotto.

  2. fantastic colour - I passed up watercress at a farmers market on the weekend and regret it now but we did have chickpeas on our soup tonight - not as fancy as yours - just rejects from sylvia :-)

    1. Johanna - that sounds like some excellent chickpea recycling regardless. :-) I regretted letting our watercress get so wilted and was glad to ultimately make good use of it.

  3. Yum! I can imagine how fresh and flavoursome this would taste, I definitely need to be eating more vegetables! x

    1. Hi Hannah! It was such a relief to eat so many great vegetables at home after a lot of eating out.