Nick Cullen serves up a simple but effective treat

IT’S always useful to have a few tasty soup recipes up your sleeve, especially at times like this. Today’s recipe uses a few simple store cupboard ingredients but you can jazz it up with a bit of chorizo if you have it in stock.

Chickpeas are a really nutritious ingredient, especially if you follow a meat-free diet, because they’re a great source of protein, dietary fibre and iron. They also provide an element of texture and can be eaten warm or cold, roasted, boiled or pureed.

Chickpeas are popular in Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery but are widely consumed in the UK too. And of course, we wouldn’t have our beloved hummus if we didn’t have chickpeas (the UK consumes £60 million worth of hummus each year!).

You can add chickpeas to curries, stews or soups to create a hearty and nutritious meal or toss them into salads for extra texture and flavour. Roasted chickpeas are also a wonderful crunchy snack that can be flavoured with chilli, garlic or herbs and spices.

This chickpea soup is a delicious meal for the family, made with warming spices and a hint of chilli. Since I’m not a vegetarian, I often add a little chorizo to mine too.

Chickpeas and chorizo are often paired together in Spanish and Portuguese cookery and are a great combo.

This soup can be quite easily frozen too if you want to make a big batch of it. Simple add the chorizo and toasted chickpeas once defrosted and re-heated.

Smoky Chickpea Soup

(serves 4)

2 x 400g cans of chickpeas

1 onion, finely chopped

1 medium potato, diced

1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock

3 garlic cloves, crushed

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 green chilli, finely chopped

A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley

100g chorizo (optional), sliced into thin strips

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Reserve a handful and dry them well with kitchen paper then set aside.

Sweat the onions in a little olive oil in a large, deep pan. Add the potato, chickpeas, smoked paprika, chilli and garlic and the stock.

Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat slightly. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes have softened.

Meanwhile toast the remaining chickpeas for a few minutes in a dry frying pan over a high heat along with the chorizo (if using).

Remove the soup from the heat and add the parsley and season to taste. Blend to a smooth consistency and, if serving straight away, return to the heat for a minute or two. Otherwise allow to cool completely before freezing or refrigerating.

Divide between bowls and top with the toasted chickpeas and chorizo. Serve with some crusty bread.