Chickpeas are a great way of getting protein into your diet. They also help you to stretch a stew if unexpected extra guests drop by.
1. Place the bacon lardons in a nonstick pan or casserole set over a medium heat. Cook until they are just beginning to crisp up, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess grease.
2. Brown the beef in the same pan for 3 to 4 minutes, still over a medium heat, then transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
3. Add the olive oil to the pan and reduce the heat to low, then add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned.
4. Add the bacon and beef back to the pan along with the chickpeas and sprigs of thyme, then pour in the beef stock. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the beef is completely cooked through and tender. Add the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve with crusty bread.