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Chickpea and leek soup

This recipe has been a family favourite for years, it's actually from Jamie Oliver's earlier Naked Chef book which was published in 2000, when I was till at Uni. Beans, lentils and seeds are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, but they need to be prepared properly to get the best out of of them.

Phytates and Lectins

So the most cost effective way to buy beans and lentils is in their dried form. Whilst I still buy tinned (organic and in cans with no bpa lining) I don't know whether they are soaked for long enough.

Phytate (phytic acid) is found in plant foods like beans, grains, nuts and seeds. Research demonstrates that they can act as "anti-nutrients" which means that they can interfere with absorption of important minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium along with other nutrients and therefore may promote mineral deficiencies. It's recognised that if phytates are consumed in high amounts in diets this can be a problem, particularly for vegetarians and vegans.

This anti-nutrient effect applies to a single meal and not the diet overall which is why I recommend soaking.

I recommend preparing some of these ingredients to remove some of the phytates either by:

  • Soaking for 12-24 hours in filtered water and changing the water at least once,

  • Sprouting

  • Fermenting

Using these methods can reduce phytate considerably - research has shown that if you cook beans for an hour it can reduce phytic acid by 80%.

There are potential health benefits of phytic acid in that for some people it can work as an antioxidant and could potentially protect against insulin resistance and cancer, however I think negatives outweigh the potential benefits, particularly if you've got a mostly healthy diet with lots of fruit and veggies and less processed foods.


  • This is as vegan/veggie soup and is packed with nutrients.

  • The recipe is for 6-8 portions so a 400g portion will provide about 20% of your recommended protein intake, 30% of your recommended fibre intake

  • Leeks are part of the allium family of veggies, which can protect against cancer and this is probably because they are rich in flavinoids which have antioxidant properties (particularly one called called kaemphferol)

  • They are rich in vitamin K, beta carotene, and vitamins such as vitamin B1, B3, B6 and folate as well as vitamin C.

  • They have high levels minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and manganese.

  • Use the whole leek, including the green parts, as well as reducing waste, these will contain the highest levels of folate, vitamin K and beta carotine.


  • 5 leeks including green parts, washed and sliced

  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped

  • 1 medium potato diced, you can leave the skin on for extra nutrients

  • 1litre of veggie stock

  • Two tablespoons of olive oil

How to

  • First soak the chickpeas for 12-24 hours in filtered water with a dash of vinegar, changing the water at least once.

  • Rinse them through and boil them in filtered water - bring to the boil and simmer for one hour.

  • Fry the leeks in the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and after about 5 minutes add the potatoes and leeks

  • Fry for another 5 minutes then add the drained chickpeas

  • Stir for a few minutes and then add the stock.

  • Cook for another 15-20 minutes and then you can par blend it and serve.

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