This is a very traditional soup from Alentejo in Portugal. The most popular ingredients in Alentejo are garlic and fresh coriander and these leave an intense flavour in this soup. It's a winter soup, very hearty, no meat, no stock and simple to make. If you don't have time to cook your own dry chickpeas, use pre-cooked ones and the soup is ready really quickly. Another way we serve this soup, is by pureeing the chickpeas with their cooking water when they are cooked and follow the recipe using the purée instead of leaving the chickpeas whole. —Maria Teresa Jorge
dry chickpeas or pre-cooked chickpeas
fresh spinach, leaves removed and washed
onion medium, finely chopped
garlic cloves, finely chopped, green inner part removed
fresh coriander, leaves removed and chopped finely
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
small elbow macaroni or other small pasta
Clean the dry chickpeas from any stones or debris and wash them in a colander under cold running water.
Cover with cold water 3 inches above beans and let reconstitute overnight.
Drain the chickpeas. In a pot put the chickpeas, cover with water 2 inches above their level, seasoned with salt, and bring to a boil. Lower to medium low heat and allow to cook slightly al dente.
NOTE: If you want to make a puréed soup, let them cook for a further 10 minutes and then process the chickpeas and their cooking liquid at this point
Meanwhile, wash the spinach thoroughly, discarding any thick stems. Put in a colander to drain.
In a large pot add the Olive Oil and fry the onion 2 minutes until translucent. Add the chopped garlic and coriander, fry 1 minute more, add the drained spinach, stir for another 2 minutes, add the chickpeas and the cooking water (or the chickpea purée, depending which version you make).
Bring to a boil, add the elbow macaroni, lower the heat and simmer until pasta is al dente.
Check the seasoning, add some freshly ground white pepper and serve hot.