Chickpea, Spinach & Porcini Soup

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (11)

I love a good rant.  Nothing thrills me more than having something to fume about, but it’s been a while since anyone has really incurred my wrath.  Enter Parcelforce.  I admit I’m not a fan of delayed gratification.  When I buy a new pair of boots I want them right now, dammit, not in 4-5 working days.  But with Parcelforce those 5 days would be a dream; they’re happy to take that maximum time and double it.  A list of the ways in which they annoyed me:

1)  When they sent me a 7am delivery announcement text, I duly waited in all morning.  Alas, a morning delivery was not on the cards.

2)  When I got home that evening there was no note to say they’d been – where the devil were those boots?

3)  Two days later they sent me that notice in an envelope in the post.  Yes, rather than leaving it in the letterbox, they took it away, put it in an envelope, paid for postage and sent it snail mail.

4)  I went online to arrange redelivery to my local post office.  My request was accepted and I got a confirmation number.  Two days later, as scheduled, I went to get it.  It was not there.  I was told to give it another day because, according to the good people of the post office, “Parcelforce are rubbish.”

5)  See number 4.

6)  On calling Parcelforce to get to the bottom of it, I was put through to the most idiotic woman in the world.  Rather than apologising for the mix up/telling me where my parcel was now, she engaged me in this delightful exchange:

Me:  But it was confirmed on the website, why wasn’t the parcel brought here?

Parcelforce:  If a parcel’s too big it has to go back to the depot.  How big is your parcel?

Me:  It’s a pair of boots.

Parcelforce:  And how big is the post office?

Me:  …Big enough to hold a pair of boots.

Parcelforce:  No, some post offices aren’t big enough, how big is it?

Me:  I don’t know, compared to what?

Parcelforce:  Just in general, is it a big post office?

Me:  I don’t know what you’re asking me.  It’s not the biggest post office I’ve been in, but it’s big enough for boots.

Parcelforce:  Is it a main post office?

Me:  I don’t know.  It’s in a Smiths.

Parcelforce:  It’s probably too small for your parcel.

Me:  …So where’s my parcel?

Unsurprisingly, this all ended with me hanging up on her.

7)  All this time I was wearing my old, worn out boots with holes in them.  It rains a lot in Manchester.

8)  Finally, on Saturday, I went on a long, arduous trek to the depot.  The depot post office is not in a Smiths, it’s in a tiny corner shop.  The depot post office is a cubicle.  And they didn’t even ask to see one form of ID, never mind the two that I’d been ordered to bring.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (13)

I suppose all’s well that ends well, and I am delighted to have my long-awaited, hard-earned boots.  But Parcelforce are definitely going on my list.  They anger me even more than Hong Kong Post, who lost a box of goods I shipped home last year, meaning a tragic farewell to my favourite pyjamas, hat and scarf, not to mention a few cookbooks including this one from good old Hugh.  Fortunately I have this recipe just about memorised to tide me over until I get round to replacing the missing books.  This soup is ideal for winter, and is as satisfying as having dry feet and ranting mindlessly about first world problems.

Chickpea, Spinach & Porcini Soup

Serves 4, slightly adapted from River Cottage Veg Every Day


30g dried porcini mushrooms

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

400g passata

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tsp dried rosemary

300g spinach, shredded


Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (1)

1. Soak the porcini in 750ml hot water for 30 minutes.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (4)

2.  Strain the mushrooms into a sieve, reserving the liquid in a bowl underneath.  Rinse the mushrooms, pat them dry with kitchen roll and roughly chop them.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (2)

3.  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the onion for about 7 minutes.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (3)

4.  Add the garlic and rosemary and stir for a minute.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (5)

5.  Then add the mushrooms and stir through for 2 more minutes.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (6)

6.  Add the passata, chickpeas, mushroom liquid and a few grinds of black pepper.  Fill the empty chickpeas can with water and add that too.  Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (8)

7.  Add the spinach for the final 2-3 minutes.  Season.

Porcini Spinach and Chickpea Soup (10)

8.  Ladle into bowls, and tuck in!

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