Teamwork, My Chick-a-Pea!

Harissa and Chickpea Soup

A couple of week's ago the spouse expressed an interest in making this soup from The Soup Book. Well, it's my blog and I make the soups. That said, I let him make the harissa that's needed to flavour the soup I made last Saturday (10th November). The recipe is by Roopa Gulati so I expected spice and richness. We weren't disappointed. The spouse is becoming a collector of harissa pastes and enjoyed making this one, which called for a red pepper, olive oil, seeds (coriander, cumin and caraway), tomato puree, garlic, red chillies, smoked paprika and lemon juice. I don't know how this was made as the spouse was the boss of the harissa. I needed only a couple of tablespoons for the soup, but we can use the rest with couscous (a favourite with the younger offspring). By the way, we now have three jars of smoked paprika due to inadequacies in our spice filing system. I hope that binding them together with a rubber band will help prevent any more expansion of the paprika empire in our larder.

Now, the business end of the soup required smoked pancetta (I was lucky to find any unsmoked pancetta in my locality), red onions, a potato, celery, a small fennel (thanks, Young Stephen's shop!), oregano, tomatoes, stock, canned chickpeas and a bay leaf. Picking herbs (oregano and the bay leaf) from the garden still gives me a thrill! Peeling, slicing and dicing done, I went to take a photograph of my prepared vegetables, but the camera battery was dead and the charger couldn't be found. Never mind. The spouse came to the rescue with his smart phone.

Harissa and chickpea soup

On with the cooking. All very straightforward: pancetta fried in oil then removed; vegetables softened in this oil; harissa and tomatoes added; and, finally, in with the stock, pancetta, chickpeas and bay leaf. Twenty minutes or so later the soup was ready. The spouse and younger offspring were busy watching a rugby match so I brought their soup up to them on a tray. The spouse and I had been wondering if the boy was eating enough fruit and vegetables. Any deficits were addressed with this soup. We all liked it and it's definitely going to be made again. Thank you, team!

Honey and Stuff

My book group is reading Stuff by Daniel Miller. I don't think I'm going to finish it by the time we meet. Miller is an anthropologist and - I think - a philosopher. The book is over my head but I'm enjoying it nevertheless. Here comes the honey (hopelessly out of context):

Engelke writes a whole essay on the ambiguity surrounding sacred honey and the constant temptation to use this lapse of immaterialism, the fact that they do see something special in honey, as a conduit that brings spiritual power back down to our instrumental earth. 
I then had to check who Engelke is - another anthropologist. Then I came across another anthropologist - Alyssa Crittenden - who has explored the importance of honey in human evolution. Sweet!

That's it for now.



  1. Just to let you know that the local Superquinn now has diced bacon bits (unsmoked) by Cookstow, which may make a good substitute for pancetta if you don't want smoked. Very good quality, only 1.99 for 200g.( Although you say that the recipe required smoked, you also say that you found it difficult to find unsmoked in the locality) I tried these bacon bits with Brussels sprouts (yes, delicious) and also in lentil soup. The same. Yum.

  2. Hi, MH. Thanks for that. Glad to see you're still reading. I made two soups last weekend and am trying to gather the energy to write about them - mushroom soup and Thai chicken soup.

    1. Mushroom soup can be either delicious or horrible I find ..... never in-between! Good luck with it! Thai chicken soup sounds great though.


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